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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09MONROVIA118
2009-02-06 13:23:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Monrovia
Cable title:  

LIBERIA: SENATOR ACQUITTED IN MURDER TRIAL

Tags:   PGOV  KRCM  ASEC  CASC  PREL  PHUM  LI 
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VZCZCXYZ0021
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMV #0118 0371323
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADX29B538 WSC4353-695)
P 061323Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0769
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS MONROVIA 000118 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KRCM ASEC CASC PREL PHUM LI
SUBJECT: LIBERIA: SENATOR ACQUITTED IN MURDER TRIAL

UNCLAS MONROVIA 000118

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KRCM ASEC CASC PREL PHUM LI
SUBJECT: LIBERIA: SENATOR ACQUITTED IN MURDER TRIAL


1. (U) SUMMARY. Margibi County Junior Senator Roland Kaine was
acquitted of murder by Criminal Court "B" at the Temple of Justice
in Monrovia on February 5. Senator Kaine was accused along with 15
others of murdering 21 youths in Grand Bassa County on June 7, 2008
in a land dispute. Six of the accused were also acquitted while
eight others were found guilty. One of the defendants will be
retried because jurors could not reach a decision on him. The
Embassy is monitoring for possible demonstrations protesting the
verdict. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) Senator Kaine was accused of ordering the murder of 30 youths
who were hired by Charles Bennie, a founding member of the defunct
Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy warring faction,
to clear shrubs from a disputed strip of land in Timor village,
Grand Bassa County. Following the clash, 17 bodies were found and
four remain missing (the rest escaped). Kaine was a senior member
of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia warring
faction. The land dispute between Senator Roland Kaine and Charles
Bennie worsened after Kaine defeated Bennie in the race to become
Senator of Margibi County during the 2005 general elections.
Officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs are reported to have
earlier intervened in a bid to resolve the land dispute.


3. (U) Judge Yusuf Kaba of Criminal Court "B" read the jury's
verdict and ordered that Senator Kaine and six others be immediately
released from further detention. The verdict maintained that the
prosecution did not show sufficient and convincing evidence linking
Senator Kaine to the crime of murder. Sentencing of the eight
convicted defendants will take place at a later date. No date has
been set for the start of the retrial of the other defendant.


4. (U) There was a heavy police presence around the Slipway
Community in Monrovia where most of the murdered youths hired by
Charles Bennie lived, following the acquittal of Senator Kaine and
six other defendants. Residents of the community have threatened to
stage a demonstration against the acquittals, as they see Senator
Kaine as the mastermind behind the deaths of 21 young men from their
community. Residents of Slipway Community clashed with supporters
of Kaine in November 2008 at the Temple of Justice who had gone to
the court to demonstrate in solidarity with Senator Kaine. The
Embassy is monitoring the situation. As of noon February 6 there
were no signs of any public protest concerning the verdict.


5. (SBU) COMMENT: The government has not won any high profile
convictions since it took office in 2006. It appears to us that
these cases are driven by politics rather than the evidence. The
poor preparation of the cases leads to the inevitable results. As a
result of the lack of confidence in the justice system, there is a
likelihood of violence erupting between supporters of Senator Roland
Kaine and relatives and friends of the murdered youths sometime in
the future.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD