News / Africa

Former Liberian-American Judge to Focus on Corruption Allegations

Judge Melvin JohnsonJudge Melvin Johnson
x
Judge Melvin Johnson
Judge Melvin Johnson
James Butty
Former Liberian-American Judge Melvin Johnson has disputed a news report he was fired from his post in Lithonia, Georgia.

Johnson said he made a “conscious choice” to spend his time fighting corruption in Liberia. He is one of two Liberian-Americans indicted by the Liberian government for “economic sabotage” last year.  Monrovia is seeking their extradition from the United States.

He and his partner, Ellen Corkrum, secretly recorded senior Liberian government officials, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to prove their allegation of corruption within the government.

The Atlanta-based Internet publication On Common Ground reported that Johnson was terminated from his position after repeatedly failing to complete the annual training for judges, as required by state law.

Johnson said the article contained false information and the author has promised to retract it.

“I read the On Common Ground article, and [it] wasn’t truthful in a lot of ways. I tried contacting the author of the article.  A colleague, a lawyer friend of mine, representing me in Liberia also contacted the author of the article. That author admitted that there were things in it that were false.  The author apologized and promised to retract the article,” he said.

After serving as a judge for seven years in Georgia, Johnson said he made a “conscious effort” to focus on other areas of interest.

“Essentially I did.  I served for seven years and I took on a cause in Liberia that consumed my time, and I no longer was able to spend the requisite time here in Lithonia,” Johnson said.

The On Common Ground article reportedly said Johnson was terminated after officials learned he repeatedly failed to complete the annual training for judges, as required by state law.

But, Johnson said, if what the publication said was true, state officials responsible for monitoring his judicial license should be in trouble and not him.

“Anybody that has any experience with the system here in the US can attest that no governmental body will allow you to go five years when you’re required to annually renew your license.  If that were true, I wouldn’t be the one getting in trouble.  Those that work for the state that would have allowed it to go five years would have been the ones getting in trouble,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he and his partner, Ellen Corkrum, began secretly recording senior government officials, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when they learned of a plot by government officials to undermine their anti-corruption measures.

 He said, now that he is no longer a judge, he will spend more time fighting against corruption in Liberia.

“Absolutely, this will allow me to do more [of] that now.  Of course, currently we’re engaged in this cause to bring liberation to our people, to bring equality, to bring a halt to the corruption, more specifically to the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government and the corruption clique that has been described by her own officials,” Johnson said.

He said he sees a correlation between the end of his judgeship and his anti-corruption efforts in Liberia, although he did not disclose any specific information to prove such a correlation.

“I have seen documentation; I have had conversations with different people on different levels here in the US, those conversations I’m not privy [to].  But, it’s been very clear [that], once we started exposing corruption in Liberia, once we started to bring an end to the ‘ghost employees’ phenomenon, it became very clear that the president and her group had a witch hunt for me and Ellen Corkrum,” he said.

Liberian Justice Minister Christiana Tah told VOA last December that Johnson and his alleged co-conspirators had been indicted and that the Liberian government had asked the US government to extradite both Johnson and Corkrum.

Tah refused to discuss the merits of the case because “it’s before the court.”

But, Johnson said US government officials have yet to approach him and Corkrum about any extradition.

“We’ve always known that there wasn’t going to be any extradition. So, nobody has contacted us and we’re not expecting anybody to contact us,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he and Corkrum have more secret recordings of people in government, including President Sirleaf.  He said they were holding on to the recordings and hopes to play them in US courts, if the alleged request for extradition had become a reality.

He said now that there are going to be no extradition proceedings, they will release the remaining recordings.

“What we decided to do was to hold on to the more damning recordings in an effort to see if this extradition threat was going to be fulfilled.  Our hope was that, if it were going to be fulfilled [in] the US court here in a public manner, with the US press, with the international press listening, it would have afforded us a perfect opportunity to play those recordings in the open court,” Johnson said.
Butty interview with Melvin Johnson
Butty interview with Melvin Johnsoni
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid