By: H. Richard Fallah
BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA: For sexually assaulting two (2) Korean teenagers, the government of South-Korea, through its legal system, has sentenced two top officials of the Liberian government to nine (9) years imprisonment.
Informing the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) concerning the latest development, the Pureum Law Office, a Korea Law Firm, hired by the Government of Liberia to represent Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr in their sexual assault case, revealed yesterday, April 5, 2023, that at the hour of 2:00p.m. (Korean Time), at the schedule verdict hearing, the Court in Busan, Korea, found both men Guilty of Sexual Assault.
A statement from the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), dated Wednesday, April 5, 2023, said, following the conviction, the court in Busan has consequently sentenced both Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr to serve prison terms of nine (9) years each.
The Maritime Authority in its release noted that the government of Liberia, through the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, has instructed its legal representation in Korea, Pureum Law Office, to furnish it with the various Appeal Options available to a criminal defendant under Korean Laws.
“Notwithstanding, we have established that any appeal from such a verdict has to be exercised no later than seven (7) days following the rendition of the judgment,” the release said.
The government of Liberia has promised to provide further information to the public once a decision is made regarding the issue of any appeal.
According to the statement, families of both detainees (Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr) have since been informed of the Korean Court`s decision and expressed its (government) intent to facilitate the visit to Busan, Korea, of at least one member of each family to ensure, inter alia, contact between their respective families in the aftermath of the sentence.
The government has however promised to remain engaged with the government of the Republic of Korea through official diplomatic channels to explore all options pertaining to the two Liberia officials who are currently serving their nine (9) years sentence.
In October last year (2022), the two Liberian Maritime Program officials were arrested by the police in the South Korean City of Busan, and were formally charged with the crime of “two-person joint rape.”
The officials Moses Owen Browne, Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the UK and Daniel Tarr, Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection at the LiMA, were arrested on the night of September 22, by Police in the South Korean City of Busan and detained.
According to investigations the two (2) Liberian officials allegedly lured the teenagers by promising to treat them with alcohol and food, and demanded sexual intercourse through Smartphone translation services, the victims refused and left the room, but the men brought them back and raped them.
Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr, were also charged with confining the victims for about 20 minutes in the hotel room while blocking the entrance of the victims’ acquaintances who came over to help the victims later that evening.
The accused were visiting Busan to attend the 2022 Korea Maritime Week, an event jointly organized by Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Liberia`s Minister of Foreign Affairs, D. Maxwell Kemayan, in a communication then, noted that the two officials, contrary to previous information have been to a different facility and not the Busan District Prosecutor’s Office which is about one hour drive from where they had been held previously.
The communication noted at the time, that no information was supplied as to the name nor location of the new facility to which they have been taken; and no notice yet, as to the date of trial.
The First Secretary or Consul from the Mission, Ms. Alade, who was commissioned to go to Busan met with both officials and authorities of the Busan Police; and after obtaining an understanding of the situation, filed several observations.
Ms. Alade recounted that the sexual interaction between Mr. Browne and Mr. Tarr, and the two Korean ladies on the night of September 22, is not in dispute, since both accused have confirmed their interaction with women.
Browne reportedly insisted that he has immunity under international Law, considering his status as an official of the Government of Liberia, with a valid diplomatic passport and a visa duly issued by the Government of the Republic of Korea.