Court denies government motion
By Lincoln G. Peters
Monrovia City Court Magistrate Jomah Jallah has denied and dismissed the prosecution’s application seeking to declare opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings a hostile witness.
Prosecutors made the request recently, asking the court to subpoena Mr. Cummings to produce the original version of the Collaborating Political Parties’ (CPP) framework agreement.
Mr. Cummings is on trial for criminal charges based on accusations by his fellow opposition leader Mr. Benoni Urey and the All Liberian Party (ALP) that the accused and his ANC party allegedly tampered with the framework agreement of the Collaborating Political Parties and attached his (Urey’s) signature to a photocopy version.
Mr. Cummings has denied there exists any original CPP framework agreement other than what his accusers claim is a photocopy version and has instead challenged them to produce the original. He faces charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy.
Ruling on the prosecution’s request for a subpoena of the original CPP framework document on Wednesday, 23 February 2022, the Magistrate said it would be legally wrong and unfair to declare Mr. Cummings as a hostile witness.
Magistrate Jallah ruled that Cummings had not demonstrated any disregard and made contradictory statements while on the witness stand during the trial.
The Magistrate explained that it’s true that the law provides that the witness can be considered a hostile witness under certain conditions as provided for under Chapter 25.19 of Liberia’s Criminal Procedure Law.
But the Magistrate indicated that this can happen if the witness demonstrates characters and elements that lead to being hostile.
‘’This Court says, defendant Cummings while on the witness stand has not demonstrated any bias or made contradictory statements to be declared a hostile witness as he is before this court as a subpoena Duces Tecum witness to produce documents as requested by prosecution in its motion which was granted by this Honorable Court,” Magistrate Jallah ruled.
“Therefore, and in view of the foregoing, the submission made by prosecution to declare Mr. Cummings a hostile witness is hereby dismissed and denied and hereby so ordered,’’ he continued.
He said that Section 25.19 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia provides that the credibility of a witness may be impeached by attacking his general character, by showing his formation of illegal crimes or by showing that he has contradicted himself earlier in and out of court.
He ruled that except as to a hostile witness or otherwise provided by law, the party will not impeach the credibility of his own witness, although he may contradict himself at the testimony of another witness and documentary evidence of another witness.
However, he said a party may request to declare his own witness hostile if his testimony is contrary to his earlier statement, making it irresponsible, hostile, or show that he is biased against such a party.
Additionally, the Magistrate noted that if the court grants such a request, the witness may be interrogated if they had been called as a witness to the other party.
The prosecution requested the court to declare Cummings a hostile witness after it accused him of allegedly demonstrating basis and making contradictory statements.
But the defense team prayed the court to deny and dismiss the motion because the accused was not a general witness.
The defense said Mr. Cummings was called to court to produce documents and he has never contradicted himself or shown any biases in his testimony to be declared a hostile witness as requested by the prosecution.
Cummings’ lawyers said prosecution’s request for the court to declare him a hostile witness is a complete delay tactic to prolong the case due to lack of evidence.
His lawyers said the prosecutors headed by Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus is just trying to fish for evidence that does not exist.
The accused, Mr. Cummings is an executive of the opposition CPP which has already broken apart following a prolonged internal fight.
The CPP was once made of the ALP, ANC, the former ruling Unity Party (UP) and the Liberty Party (LP).
Both UP and ALP have announced their withdrawal from the CPP. The LP has not made its position clear because of its own internal bickering which has left it divided into two factions.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/complete-delay-tactics-cummings-lawyers-term-subpoena/