By Lincoln G. Peters
Lawyers representing detained former Liberian Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott and her three family members are contemplating appealing to the Supreme Court against a circuit court’s refusal to grant them bail.
On Tuesday, 4 July 2023, Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie denied a motion seeking to bail Cllr. Scott and her three family members to secure their release.
Cllr. Scott and her family members Rebecca Youdeh Wilson, Gertrude Newton, and Alice C. Johnson are charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, and [providing] false reports to law enforcement officials.
They were sent to court Thursday, 22 June 2023 and subsequently detained at South Beach, a maximum prison in Monrovia, after several months of police investigation about the murder of Cllr. Scott’s daughter Charloe Musu.
The defendants are accused of using a sharp instrument believed to be a knife to stab the late Charloe Musu.
Charloe’s death in February this year shocked the country and heightened security fears.
She was murdered at Cllr. Scott’s residence after the former Chief Justice reported to police authorities two separate incidents of alleged armed robbery attacks at her home in Brewerville.
Dozens of top lawyers, including impeached Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh are defending Cllr. Scott and her accused family members in the alleged murder case.
In an interview following Tuesday’s hearing at the Criminal Court “A,” former Justice Ja’neh expressed a dissenting view on the lower court’s constitutional interpretation denying his clients a bail bond.
He told reporters that the defense team is contemplating taking advantage of the law over the ‘interpretation’ of a constitutional provision by Judge Willie.
Former Justice Ja’neh said Judge Willie interpreted Chapter 111 Article 21 (b) (i) of the Constitution of Liberia.
He disclosed that the defense will take advantage of the law at the nation’s highest court as soon as possible for a proper interpretation of the constitutional provision.
“The judge interpreted that provision of the Constitution in the manner in which he understands it. But we hold a different view and therefore, we have announced that we will take advantage of the law,” he told reporters.
Former Liberian Foreign Minister Madam Olubanke King Akerele also expressed disappointment over the court’s decision to deny Cllr. Scott and her family members’ bail.
“I don’t want to speak, but again, I am very disappointed. You don’t have to put words in my mouth. Just don’t want to speak and I can’t speak further. But all I can say now is that I am disappointed in the judge’s decision to deny Cllr. Scott,’’ she noted.
During the trial on Tuesday, the defense team argued that their clients were entitled to bail bond because the government has allegedly not provided any evidence that the accused had committed a crime.
But prosecutors resisted the defense’s argument and urged the court to deny the application for a bail.
The State lawyers insisted that the crime the defendants are accused of committing – murder – is a capital offense which is not bailable under the Liberian Constitution.
Judge willie denied the defense’s request for bail, saying the process at hand was not the place to proof who committed the crimes and how they were committed because the burden is on the prosecutor.
In a related development, Judge Willie has ordered the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice with immediate effect to provide every and all evidence in the case to the court for onward presentation to the defense lawyers.
Judge Willie said the evidence should be presented to the court Wednesday, 5 July 2023.
Failure on the part of the prosecution to make the evidence available within the time frame given, the court said it will take appropriate legal action.
The court’s decision was based upon a motion of discovery filed by lawyers representing Cllr. Scott and her family members.