Kinjor Victims’ Families Condemn Police Report -Insist they were murdered

MONROVIA: In the wake of the police report in the Kinjor Crisis which exonerated the police of any wrong doing in the shooting that killed two citizens, Essah Massaley and Abraham Kerkula, the bereaved families have vehemently rejected the said report and placed squarely the cause of the death on the Liberia National Police (LNP) and have called on the international community to intervene to have the accused properly investigated.

In a prepared press statement read to newsmen at a press conference yesterday, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, the spokesperson for the family, Millias Z. Sheriff said on February 28 & 29, 2024, there were peaceful assemblies of citizens and workers of the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC) as guaranteed under Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution in demand for better working conditions for employees, just benefits, and genuine call for the company to live up to its social corporate responsibility.

“As you may be aware, this peaceful assembly turned into a blood bath as the Liberian National Police (LNP), representing the interest of the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC), located in Kinjor, Gola Konneh District, Grand Capemount County gruesomely killed three (3) peaceful and unarmed citizens on February 29, 2024. The likes of Essah Massaley, Abraham Kerkula, and another person were shot in their backs while escaping the police use of brutal force.

“This action by the Police violates Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which speaks about the Right to Life and Safety. It stresses that everyone is entitled to respect for his or her life and safety. It also states that no one may be arbitrarily deprived of their right to life.

The use of excessive force is condemned especially when used against peaceful and unarmed protestors…..placards holding protesters, onlookers, bystanders, etc”, Mr. Sheriff said..

He said an investigation conducted by the Professional Standard Department of the Liberian National Police exonerated itself by justifying the fatal shooting of three (3) peaceful and unarmed citizens by stating that “the use of lethal force was necessary”.

Mr. Sherriff said that the Police Report is not a surprise because, in a situation where the Accused and admitted perpetrator of the shooting is also the self-proclaimed arbiter of justice, the outcome of the said ruling is obvious.

“It is unthinkable and unreasonable for the Police to justify the taking away of the lives of those unarmed citizens especially when taxpayers’ money are used to have them trained to protect lives and properties.

“We are convinced that the police used disproportionate force that resulted in the deaths of the three unarmed citizens. Evidence in our possession points to the fact that two (2) of the three (3) victims were shot in their backs.

“How can people who posed a severe threat to the lives or possible bodily injury of police officers not be facing them while they were killed but had to be running away? In simple terms, those victims were unarmed, vulnerable, and helplessly running away from the police when they lethally gunned them down.

The Police Report is a futile attempt to incriminate those unarmed citizens who were brutally murdered by them”, the statement said.

The families said the prudent thing to be done by the Police is to turnover Chief Superintendent Clinton Morris, Superintendent Spencer Tamba, Chief Inspector Ezekiel J. Doe, and Chief Inspector Marcus C. Zorleh who all admitted to discharging their weapons to face justice than to present a bogus report having them exonerated.

“Additionally, we are calling upon the Liberia National Police to disrobe and prosecute the newly promoted Deputy Police Commissioner, Amos Williams who served as Commander during the operation and gave the ORDER to indiscriminately SHOOT and KILL unarmed citizens.

“We do hereby question the professional integrity, impartiality, and independence of the Police Report. The Police killed innocent people while representing the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC), investigated themself, and came out with a bogus report. The Police Report is irresponsible, reckless, and can be considered as a compromised trash. This Report is insensitive and heartless!”, the families said

The statement further said the families are calling for an independent forensic investigation to establish the authenticity of what occurred on that fateful day of February 29 and also demanding the Government of Liberia facilitate the conduct of an independent autopsy on the two (2) dead bodies of Essah Massaley and Abraham Kerkula that are yet to be buried.

“We are also calling the attention of the International Community through their Embassies or Diplomatic Missions located near Monrovia to pay keen attention to the deadly situation that occurred in Kinjor, Grand Capemount County. Peaceful citizen’s lives were lost and some were brutally manhandled by the Liberian National Police (LNP) while representing the interests of the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC).

And these are flagrant human rights violations that need to be flagged as justice is being sought.

“Due to the sensitivity of the Police Report which could cause upheaval in the county and country at large, we are calling on the International Community i.e ECOWAS, African Union (AU), the American Embassy, the European Union, etc to see the need to immediately intervene by providing International Independent investigators. We need your speedy intervention as the action by the Police in Kinjor and their insensitive justification have the proclivity to undermine the hard-earned peace”, the statement said.

Towards the end of the statement, the families said let it be unequivocally clear that they will pursue this matter to its logical conclusion, stressing that as they seek justice, they have contracted the services of a law firm and an International Consultant to provide proper guidance and direction on the way forward during this critical period.

“As we conclude this statement, we want to inform the Liberian people and the world that the Bea Mountain Facility or compound remains a crime scene and shall be subjected to a formal criminal investigation when a panel of independent forensic criminal investigators is appointed”, the statement concluded.

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