…. The sexual interaction between Browne and Tarr, and the two Korean ladies on the night of September 22, is not in dispute. Both men have confirmed their interaction with women,” said Nelson, Liberia’s Ambassador to Japan
Police in South Korea have formally charged two senior employees of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) accused of rape with the conduct of the crime.
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 detained last month for allegedly raping two Korean teenagers.
They have been officially charged with the crime of committing “two person joint rape,” and now waiting trial in South Korea, said Blamo Nelson, Liberian Ambassador to Japan in a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If found guilty, Browne and Tarr are expected to serve a jail term of less than seven years.
The Korean government is yet to provide the name or location of the new facility to which Browne and Tarr were sent, as well as notice on the date of the trial, the ambassador said.
“The sexual interaction between Browne and Tarr, and the two Korean ladies on the night of September 22, is not in dispute. Both men have confirmed their interaction with women. I saw how the two Liberian government officials were handled in preparation for their transfer to the Busan District Prosecutor’s Office,” said Nelson, who had jurisdiction over South Korea. “It was not a pleasant scene for me. Browne and Tarr were stripped of their belongings including cell phones. In my presence, the police did not only handcuff them, but they also shackled and tied them at their feet.
“I vehemently protested that it was wrong to have them tied as though they were slaves being taken to slave camps; and that such treatment was inhumane and unacceptable; especially considering that they were not resisting, nor hostile in anyway. After shouting, the police officers yielded to my argument with an apology and, except for the handcuff, removed the shackles and the ties.”
Browne and Tarr were in South Korea attending the International Maritime Organization GHG SMART Practical Training and Study Visit (September 19-23,) when this alleged incident occurred, according to reports in Korean media.
It is alleged that the victims informed Busan police that they are 14 and 16 years old, constituting the crime of statutory rape under South Korean criminal law.
Browne and Tarr were arrested at a hotel in Busan after a friend of the alleged victims reported the case to the police, Busan police said.
Statutory rape, according to South Korean Law, occurs when an individual has consensual sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 20 in Korean age.
The age of consent in South Korea is 20 years old, at which time an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 19 or younger in South Korea are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law.
Meanwhile, Nelson had informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that based on his observation, there is a dire need for the government to hire lawyers to represent the legal interest of the two Liberian maritime officials who are now in jail, awaiting trial for rape.
Busan police, the ambassador said, are open to reviewing Browne’s and Tarr’s requests for diplomatic immunity provided that the government of Liberia can submit the relevant documents regarding the claims, which are subject to review.
“I have not met any push-back from authorities of the Busan Police station where our two officials were held prior to their transfer. Those that I met officially were very willing to point out their expectation as to what, at this point, the Government of Liberia needs to do in this case: Supply documentation affirming the diplomatic status of the accused officials, and secure lawyers to begin legal defense of accused officials.
“Browne continues to hesitate providing substantive explanation to the Police, about their encounter he and Tarr had with the two Korean ladies. He is insisting 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. He is of the hope that the GOL will make proper representation to the Government of the Republic of Korea.”
“Tarr, considering that he is not holding a Diplomatic Passport, but rather an Official Passport with a proper Visa issued by the Government of Korea, has responded to the Police interrogation, but I was not privileged to know what he may have explained. Tarr, is expecting that the Gol will make the proper representation to the Government of Korea which would lead to their release and return to Monrovia,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Liberia Maritime Authority has yet to comment on the latest saga involving two of its employees but, in an official statement issued when the arrests were made last month, they described the allegation as grave, and has no place in any civilized society.
“LiMA unequivocally maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any types of sexual and gender-based offenses, and views these allegations of the conduct of its Officials as most egregious, having no place in any civilized society,” the release said.
“[We] will fully cooperate with the Government of the Republic of South Korea in the investigation of this incident and vow to take appropriate actions, pursuant to national and international Law.”