FBI To Conducts DNA Forensic Laboratory Typing In Late Satta Binda Case
“The MOJ as the prosecuting arm of Govt takes this, Satta Binda and all other crimes committed in this county serious that is why we have always maintained that we’ll exert all efforts and will leave no stone unturned in trying to solve this crime and bring those responsible to justice, Attorney of Bong County, Jonathan N. Flomo has said.”
Atty. Flomo said it is important to stress that while they’re doing what we’re obliged to do under the law to reach to the bottom of this issue, we need to take away sentiments, bias, political interest and negative reportage which has become the hallmark of this case.
Speaking a Press conference in Gbarnga, Bong County on June 3, 2019 Atty Flomo said one thing citizens need to know is that they as judicial actors can only prosecute crimes based on evidence.
The evidence needed to secure a conviction against anyone person/s accused of committed a crime must be strong and weighty. Let us not forget that the highest standard of proof is that which the State is subjected to and that which must be satisfied in all criminal proceedings. And that standard is ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt.’
To satisfy this standard, the State must prove to any reasonable jury that the defendants is/are the persons who committed the crime.
The law says, no matter how sufficiently the guilt of an accused has been proven, once there is doubt, the accused must be set free. That is why it is so important for the State to prosecute based on strong, cogent, weighty and high-grade evidence.
For the reasons stated above, mere allegation and assertions by one person against another are not evidence enough to prosecute especially where the allegation and assertions cannot be corroborated and are also contradictory. It has always been said in this jurisdiction that ‘the accused words are as good as the one accusing.’ That is why the State is under obligation to provide evidence against the one accused.
“Let us all remember that we live in a country governed by laws. Our laws impose on we who are duty bearers the duty to protect all rights holders. The Constitution of Liberia, being the highest law of our land says in Article 11 (c) that ‘all persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law.’ Failure to uphold this provision of the constitution will definitely result in gross human rights violations.”
He said after the death of Sata Binda on 15 September 2018, the police immediately launched an investigation into her death. As part of that investigation, and since it was a suspicious death, a 15 person coroner jury was set up to physically examine the body. They reported that Sata died as a result of foul play. Further police investigation established that she was raped, strangled and murdered.
According to Atty Flomo the rape was proven by semen test taken from the vagina of the deceased which proved positive for semen.
Police established probable cause against two persons, Clarence Davis and Josephine Sulonteh and they were charged with murder.
“After about three months, in December 2018, while in prison, Josephine Sulonteh made two recorded revelations naming several persons as being the perpetrators of the murder. In the first recording, she named four persons and only described one but in the second recording, she named three persons, described one, and omits one person she named in the first recording.
She actually claims she didn’t see this particular person she omitted in the first recording and that she had lied on him in the first recording,” he stressed.
This, in our view, was a major contradiction, especially when during police investigation she gave a totally different account of the incident. This named persons-excluding the one she could not identify by name-were invited by the police for questioning and they all denied their involvement in the crime.
He was left with no means to authenticate what Josephine had said, they embarked on less rudimentary crime-solving methods and opted for a more advanced and scientific method.
We took this decision based on our conclusion that the same person that raped the deceased might be the same person who killed her adding or that the rapist must know something concerning the death of Sata Binda.
Thus they figured that only DNA testing can resolve this mystery noting that is to get samples from all those accused and conduct DNA profiling.
It is interesting to let the Public know that there is no DNA testing laboratory in Liberia as we speak. I was told that there is a DNA testing machine sitting at JFK Hospital but there is no Liberian trained-as of yet-to interpret the results generated by the machine.
This meant that if we were ever going to succeed in our quest to have DNA testing done in this case, our only option was to look outside Liberia. This is exactly what we did. We managed to have gotten in contact with The Maastricht Forensic Institute (TMFI) in the Netherlands who give us a proforma for 3,019 Euros to conduct DNA profiling on four persons. Because of financial constraints, MOJ was unable to follow up with this service provider. We were again back to where we began.
During the last week in December, I traveled to Gaborone, Botswana to participate in a Crime Scene Investigation and Sex Crime training at the International Law Enforcement Agency (ILEA). There I met Catherine Johnson who lectured us in Sex Crime course. After our attempt with TMFI had stalled, I wrote Catherine and the other instructors for help. She then connected us with the FBI Legal Attached in Senegal and we started a discussion with them in February 2019. After a protracted period of discussion, an FBI Agent informed me that she will arrive in Monrovia on 28 of May 2019 to collect the evidence on the 29th of May 2019.
True to their words, the FBI agent came and collected the evidence on the date mentioned above.
In preparation and in anticipation of the evidence collection process, we collected samples from all those named by Josephine and additional persons of interest. A total of eight samples were sent including that of Sata Binda.
All I can say for now is that I am very very proud of what I and my team have been able to do in this case and will not rest until justice is served. I stand to be corrected, but I am sure we are the first local prosecutors who have initiated and secured international assistance in such a case devoid of national government intervention.
This alone is a milestone and a great achievement in itself not only for me personally but for the people of Bong County and Liberia at large.
Over the past two weeks or so I have received calls from friends and loved ones both home and abroad about what is said about this case and about me on Hot FM.
Hot FM has labeled us criminals who must be arrested and interrogated, wicked, inept and even that I am dismissed as County Attorney for Bong County.
It is sad to know that when people who are supposed to be professional journalists fail to follow the ethics and rules governing said profession, for whatever reason is best known to them, they become vessels that promote hatred, and sometimes carnage as we sew in the Rwanda Genocide.
The media is a very powerful tool and as such must be used for the betterment of society and not assassinate people’s hard earned character when there is absolutely no need to do so.
For journalists to fail to balance their story while reporting on such a major crime but rather seek to create sentiments against people who are doing their job in a very professional manner is totally uncalled for and is a bastardization and debasing of the noble journalism profession.
But we are not deterred by their unwarranted criticisms, unfounded assertions and narrow-minded analysis of the events and facts.
What we can assure you the people of Bong County is that we will continue to do our utmost best in the discharge of our duties to ensure that justice is done in this case and in all cases we handle. If an inept county attorney can engage an international organization like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and have them come to Liberia to help in an attempt to solve a major crime like the Sata Binda case, then I prefer to remain inept and make headways!
“I like to thank the Civil Society Organizations here in Bong County, headed by Mrs. Marline Jarwoo, who have been able to put our feet to the fire in a very positive and professional way. We hope this production interaction and cooperation will continue to be the hallmark of our professional engagements,” he said.