A circuit court in Grand Bassa County , Southeastern Liberia, on Thursday, released three defendants held in detention as “mercenaries” since their arrests in 2011 due to prosecutors’ failure to proceed with trial.
Grand Bassa County Attorney Edwin Barquoi told the NewDawn yesterday via mobile phone that the prosecutors had argued their preparedness before the court Thursday morning to proceed with trial, but their request was denied.
13 other Liberians out of more than 20 suspects arrested that same year for mercenarism and transferred to Monrovia for indictment later got convicted after trial, though their lawyers made appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia against their sentence for life-time imprisonment.
At the end of separate trials held against thirteen Liberians here in Monrovia in June 2014, the convicted “mercenaries” were sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged mercenary activities in neighboring Ivory Coast in which seven UN Peacekeepers were reported killed, among others.
Speaking with this paper yesterday evening, Atty. Barquoi said the court ruled that the case against the three defendants held in Bassa had over-stayed, and therefore set them free. Following the prosecution’s failure yesterday to persuade the court to now begin the trial of the defendants, Atty. Barquoi described the issue of mercenarism as a very serious matter that has security implications.
Following the arrests of the three defendants, Atty. Barquoi said, they were charged by the police; while one of the arrested suspects had allegedly aided police investigation in terms of leading them to the forest where they operated.
Not being satisfied with the release of the defendants, he said, the prosecution announced at the lower court that the matter would be taken before the Supreme Court of Liberia – the final arbiter of justice here. –By Winston W. Parley – Editing by George Barpeen