Liberia: Alleged Murder Case Dismissed Due to Lack of Funding for Prosecution
Monrovia — The Ministry of Justice, represented by its prosecuting attorneys, has dismissed alleged murder charges against defendant Saah Joseph after he spent seven years in imprisonment without a court trial.
The motion to dismiss the murder charges was filed on Monday, August 21, 2023, before Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie of Criminal Court ‘A’.
In the motion, the State explained that despite their utmost efforts to ensure a fair and unbiased dispensation of justice, they were unable to proceed with the case due to inadequate funding and lack of cooperation from higher government authorities. The motion clarified that the dismissal was without prejudice to the state, retaining the right to revisit the case if circumstances change.
The Government of Liberia, as stipulated by law, is responsible for arresting, charging, indicting, and prosecuting individuals accused of committing crimes against the state. However, in the case of defendant Saah Joseph, this legal obligation was unmet for seven years, infringing on his constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Defendant Joseph was arrested on February 7, 2017, by the Police for the alleged murder of a private security officer named James Beyan. Joseph was indicted alongside an individual identified as Jessy Reeves for their alleged involvement in the death of Beyan.
The indictment detailed that Beyan, a private security officer stationed at the Ma Kebah fueling station in the Red-Light commercial area of Paynesville City, died while attempting to prevent the defendants from conducting sales near the fueling station. A confrontation arose, leading to the defendants allegedly stabbing Beyan multiple times with knives.
Following the dismissal, defendant Saah Joseph, who spent seven years incarcerated without a trial, was released on August 21, 2023. Speaking to reporters after his release, Joseph recounted the challenges he faced during his imprisonment. He highlighted the dire conditions at Monrovia Central Prison, where inmates slept on the floor, had limited meals, and shared their living space with bathing, urination, and toilet facilities.
“It was a hell for me at the Monrovia Central Prison. We slept on the cold floor, ate once a day and use the same room that we slept to bathe, urinate and even toilet,” he explained.
Joseph expressed gratitude for his release and called on the Liberian government, as well as concerned citizens and humanitarian organizations, to assist him in finding accommodation and rebuilding his life.
The dismissal of the case raises concerns about the effectiveness of the justice system in ensuring timely trials and access to justice for defendants. The lack of funding and cooperation mentioned in the motion to dismiss highlights the challenges that the justice system faces in delivering justice to those involved in criminal cases.