…PUL Raises Alarm
The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has raised alarm over what it calls harassment of journalist Octavin Williams by Deputy Police Director for Operations Abraham Kromah.
The PUL release described Octavin’s arrest as a classic act of harassment geared towards driving the journalist into self-censorship.
The PUL said it is fully aware of an earlier complaint filed with it against Col. Abraham Kromah by journalist Williams in which the journalist accused him of threatening his life and going after him.
The release said the arrest comes just after it had gotten assurances from Col. Kromah that he was willing to appear for a hearing at the PUL for a probe into the complaint, pending an official communication.
“We now see the reality in the complaint filed by the journalist, and we believe that the unprovoked harassment, tyrannical arrest and unacceptable detention of journalist Williams as going beyond the conflicting reasons stated by the police,” PUL stressed.
Journalist Williams was whisked off Wednesday, July 2, 2014 on orders of Deputy Director Kromah in connection with an alleged traffic violation.
Williams was immediately ordered to take his vehicle at the Police headquarters because, according to Col. Kromah, the vehicle carrying Williams was bearing a foreign plate.
But soon the story changed when Williams arrived at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police. Col. Kromah ordered the arrest and detention of the journalist in connection with Simple Assault and Disorderly Conduct.
An eyewitness on Gurley Street explained “he stopped the car and asked the operator who was also Octavin Williams. He asked as to why Octavin was carrying foreign plates on his vehicle. Octavin told him (Kromah) that he just brought the car to Liberia from the United States.”
The bystander further told this paper that following explanation, journalist Williams displayed his driver’s license and vehicle documents to Col. Kromah.
The eyewitness explained that Col. Kromah initially left but as Journalist Williams was leaving, Col. Kromah blocked the vehicle of the journalist with his RL-102 vehicle requesting Williams to report at the police headquarters with the foreign plate vehicle.
Following two days of detention in a horrible police holding cell, journalist Williams was finally taken to court on Friday, June 4, 2014 on charges of Simple Assault and Disorderly Conduct. He has since been released on a criminal appearance bond.
When the case was assigned Tuesday, July 8, 2014, state lawyers failed to appear for the case. Col. Kromah could not also be seen in the confines of the court. The case was suspended pending notice of assignment.
However, Col Kromah denied that his action against journalist Williams was premeditated.
The Inquirer Newspaper quoted Col Kromah as saying that there was nothing orchestrated against any journalist.
The Deputy Police Director maintained that he remains a friendly character with all professionals, including journalists but when it comes to the organic laws of Liberia, he is under oath to protect and enforce it at all times.