Liberian Archbishop Mediates Release of Human Rights Lawyer

MONROVIA, Liberia, MAY 5, 2002 ( Renowned human rights lawyer Tiawan Gongloe, arrested and tortured by the police last week, was released after mediation efforts by Archbishop Michael Francis of Monrovia.

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«I am happy I am alive. I was close to death during that one night in police detention,» Gongloe said, according to an All Africa report.

Gongloe arrested April 24 by police and questioned about a speech he made in March at a conference in Guinea on peace in the Mano River Union, condemning violence as a means of state power. On the same day of his arrest, The Analyst newspaper, which had reported on his speech, was ordered to close down.

Gongloe said two police officers beat and kicked him throughout the night, causing him to suffer some hearing loss, a bruised eye and other injuries.

Lawyers who learned his condition pressured the police to hospitalize Gongloe. He was then taken to a hospital in Monrovia.

The government warned that Gongloe may still be subject to further investigation. A number of arrests have followed the state of emergency imposed Feb. 8.

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