/ 18 June 2008

Senator charged over deadly Liberian land dispute

Fourteen people, including a senator, have been charged with murder following a deadly land dispute that left at least 14 people dead in Liberia.

Fourteen people, including a senator, have been charged with murder following a deadly land dispute that left at least 14 people dead in Liberia, the Solicitor General of Liberia said on Wednesday.

”Senator Roland Kahn and 13 others were charged last night,” Tiawon Gongloe said via telephone.

The charges follow the brutal killing of at least 14 farmers in Margibi county, about 120km north of Monrovia, nearly two weeks ago.

The suspects are currently held in custody while they await trial, expected to be set in a month’s time, according to Gongloe.

The land dispute between Charles Bennie, a former spokesperson for the Lurd rebels, and the senator is the most deadly in recent years, with 14 people dead and another 19 still missing, according to police.

The farmers, who were working for Bennie as contractors on his land, were attacked by armed men who opened fire on them.

Bennie said he had been involved in a dispute over the land for some time with Kahn, who represents Margibi county. A court had already ruled the farmland belongs to him but the senator continued to claim it as his ancestral land, he added.

Bennie accused Kahn’s security men of leading the attackers, but the senator has denied the allegations.

The Senate suspended Kahn last week, lifting his immunity from prosecution.

Last week, Bennie, Kahn and 13 others were arrested in connection with the case. Kahn and the 13 men will be charged. The investigation into Bennie continues.

”The police have nothing against Charles Bennie yet, so he has been asked to be reporting to the police headquarters daily as the investigation continues,” the Solicitor General said. — Sapa-AFP