US$15M Suit Resumes Today – Against Swiss Rights Activist, Hassan Bility

MONROVIA: A 15 million United States dollars Suit filed against a Swiss Rights Activist, Alain Werner, and his Liberian Counterpart, Mr. Hassan Bility, along with their Switzerland-based Civitas Maxima organization by a former wife of jailed Liberian President Charles Taylor, Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor, resumes today at the Civil Law Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice.

Madam Taylor reportedly sued the defendants in the suit who were said to have lied to the London Metropolitan Police about her involvement in the Liberian civil. Agnes Taylor prevailed in the London case and has since returned home to further clear the blemish to her reputation.

She is seeking US$5 million from Werner as punitive damages and US$10 million as general damages.

The US$15 million defamation trial of Swiss human rights advocate Alain Werner, and his Geneva, Switzerland-based Civitas Maxima, is set to begin today, Tuesday, July 18 in Liberia

Werner, who is based in Switzerland, is being sued by Madam Taylor, an ex-wife of jailed Liberian President, Charles Taylor had tried in vain to wrestle jurisdiction from the Liberian courts.

Werner as a Swiss national is protected by Swiss legal jurisdiction and may likely be absent for the entire trial as Switzerland and Liberia do not have any extradition treaty or agreements between them.

The tough talking Judge Kennedy Peabody of Civil Law Court ‘A’ on July 13 last week announced that the trial will begin on today Tuesday, July 18, after the Supreme Court had ruled that jurisdiction was not an issue and ordered the lower Court to resume jurisdiction over this matter

Madam Taylor was reportedly arrested on June 2, 2017, in London by the Metropolitan Police and charged with torture on the grounds of her alleged involvement with the erstwhile National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group, which was led by her ex-husband during the first Liberian civil war which started in 1989.

However, the case was dismissed by the London Central Criminal Court on the grounds that the evidence presented by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to prove that the NPFL had the requisite authority over the relevant territory at the time the crimes in question were committed.

Taylor’s prosecution in the UK, according to the suit, stemmed from claims by Werner and Hassan Bility that she committed alleged war crimes while a member of the rebel group, the NPFL, a claim that prompted the prosecution by the Metropolitan Police.

Bility, who is a War crime court activist and founder of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) – a partner to Civitas Maxima – was also named in the lawsuit.

According to the suit, Bility in his written testimony, on January 8, 2015, to the UK’s Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit accused Ms. Taylor of murdering one Amos Borhn.

Borhn was the former superintendent of Margibi County and a biological brother of Nancy B. Doe, the wife of late Liberian President Samuel K. Doe. But the suit claims that Borhn who is said to be alive and resides in the UK, will be testifying in this case.

In the alleged letter, Bility also attached what he considered sworn statements, saying, “The statement (consisting of 17 pages each, signed by me) is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I made it, knowing that if it is tended in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have willfully stated anything in it, which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.”

Taylor claims in her suit that Bility and his collaborators’ actions inflicted emotional distress and defamed her hard-earned character, leading to emotional distress.

Bility’s organization focused on the documentation of wartime atrocities in Liberia and assists victims in their pursuit of justice for these crimes. Under Bility’s leadership, the GJRP’s documentation work has led to the investigation and arrests of alleged Liberian war criminals throughout Europe and the U.S., including the arrest of former Liberian rebel commanders Alieu Kosiah in Switzerland, and Martina Johnson in Belgium; the arrest of Agnes Taylor in the UK; and the arrest and eventual conviction of former ULIMO rebel commander Mohammed Jabbateh in the U.S.

He had testified in several war crime trials, including the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Charles Taylor trials at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL); the trial of Charles McArthur Emmanuel, commonly known as Chuckie Taylor in the US; and the Guus Kouwenhoven trial in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Bility has contended that he and his company cannot be held responsible for any damages against Taylor as the case came from the Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit.

However, the suit claimed that   “The Metropolitan Police relied on Bility’s coached and or paid witness testimonies and sworn statements to maliciously prosecute my client — which testimonies and statements turned out to be unreliable and groundless to the effect that there [is] no truthfulness in his evidence.”

“My client was maliciously and criminally prosecuted at the instance of the fabricated and bogus testimonies of Bility’s coached witness, which were the legal reliance of the Metropolitan Police to arrest, detain and charge her with the crime of rape and tortured of individuals, in the performance of her duties between 1989 to January 1, 1991, of the Liberian civil war,” Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi, Taylor’s lawyer said.

However, he noted that Bility can, in no way, form or manner disclaim liability or shift liability to the Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit or the UK Magisterial Court or Crown Court of London, who were only privileged to have knowledge of [the conflict] and thereby reacted based on.

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