MONROVIA – Liberia’s Supreme Court has fined the Ministers of Justice and Information US$500.00 each for bringing the judiciary to public disrepute.
The full bench of the court held a contempt hearing against Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and Mr. Ledgerhood Julius Rennie, and rendered the duo guilty of criminal contempt charge on Friday, 11 August 2023.
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Cllr. Dean, Liberia’s Attorney General/Minister of Justice, and Mr. Rennie, the Information Minister were charged with contempt for their demeaning statements and negative utterances against the judicial branch of government in the just US$100m drugs burst case.
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On 20 May 2023, the two defendants questioned the independence of the judicial branch of government and made a series of demeaning statements against that branch of government.
The court said the two officials brought the judiciary to public and international disrepute following the loss of the drug case by the government.
Their statements, according to the court, justified the perceived corruption and lack of independence in the judicial branch of government.
However, on Friday, they narrowly escaped jail sentence after the full bench of the Supreme Court ordered them to separately publish once a week for three weeks, in three widely read newspapers of Liberia, an apology to the Judiciary Branch of Government.
The court instructed that they should include a retraction of the 20 May 2023 statement within 72 hours as of rendition of the judgment and a copy of each publication filed with the Clerk of
The Supreme Court.
Additionally, the court instructed that the contemnors pay the US$500.00 each into the government’s revenue account within seventy-two hours of the rendition of the judgment.
It also ordered them to present a receipt for the payment to the Marshal of the Court.
The nation’s highest court warned that failure on the part of the defendants, the Clerk of the Court is ordered to issue a commitment to be placed in the hands of the Marshal for their imprisonment in the common jail of Montserrado-County until they abide by the mandate herein.
Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh read the judgment on behalf of the court, saying the utterances and statements by the Co-contemnor Cllr. Dean was intended to undermine the dignity and integrity of the courts.
She said it was intended to bring the entire Judicial Branch of Government into public and international disrepute.
She said likewise, the unprofessional publication of those utterances by Co-contemnor Mr. Rennie without regard for the truth is also criminally contemptuous.
She said the statement by the Minister of Justice and its publication by the Minister of Information unjustifiably damaged the image of the judicial system.
She said the Ministers are each guilty of criminal contempt which requires comparable punishment to deter others who might want to embark upon similar effrontery towards the courts of this Republic. Source: new dawn