By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Several legal minds in Liberia are of the opinion that Jovanus Turay, a 16 year old minor in connection with the Cyber- ED Christian School shootout that led to the death of female student, Precious Ireland can be prosecuted.
Early Tuesday morning was the first of its kind in Monrovia for parents to troop on a school campus to secure the safety of their kids amid a shooting of a student.
Oliver Turay, aged 16 allegedly shot dead a female student, Precious Ireland. Investigation into the shooting has been launched by the Liberia National Police.
Precious, aged 14, was shot on her neck with a 9mm pistol early Tuesday morning on campus.
The alleged murderer Student allegedly walked pass the school’s security gate which was believed to have been tight with a fire arm and made it in class.
Following the unfortunate situation on Monday, April 13, 2021, there has been claims and counter claims as to whether the minor can be held liable for his action, citing section 4.1 of the 1971 penal law.
Section 4.1 of the penal law of Liberia states that a person is not responsible for his behavior when he or she was less than 16 years old. In any prosecution for an offense, lack of Criminal responsibility by reason immaturity is an affirmative defense.
Contrary to this provision, lawyers clarified that the 16 years old minor can be prosecuted; as the crime commissioned is a first degree felony under the law and statue of the country.
They hold the view that child can be prosecuted as an adult in keeping with Chapter 10 of the juvenile law of the state. The law provides that when a minor commits a first degree felony, he or she can be tried as an adult.
Cllr. Finley Karngar holds the view that the minor can be prosecuted for the crime commissioned, but that will be determined by the Liberia National Police full investigation and the recommendation thereof.
Cllr. Karngar furthered that there are things a minor is allowed to do and there are things they are not allowed to do under the law of the country and as such, the 16 years old minor can be protected depending on the facts and circumstances that will be determined by the outcome of police probe.
“We cannot jump the gun as to the procedure and jurisdiction under which this minor would be tried. The police will make recommendations based on their investigation than the ministry of Justice will now come and determine how to try him,” Finlay noted.
According to research, anyone 13 years old and above can be tried as an adult if he or she has a record of previously breaking the law or committed a serious crime.
Minors who are 15 or 16 years are automatically tried as adults for certain offenses, including murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and armed robbery with a firearm, but in the instance where a child is charged with an identified crime, the judge must prosecute person in the adult court. For all other crimes, the judge decides whether to treat the child as a juvenile or an adult.
The term ‘juvenile felony’ refers to people who commit a crime before becoming a legal adult. People become legal adults between the ages of 16 to 19 years; depending on the state they live. However, a judge can expand or seal a juvenile record, thus removing it from public access.