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Court denies video recording in GW trial

Criminal Court “C” has denied prosecution’s request to allow video recording and live broadcast of the economic sabotage trial of several Liberian and U.K. – based Sable Mining officials because Rule 11 of the General Laws applicable in all Liberian Courts says it degrades the court and creates misconceptions in the mind of the public.

The rule dictates that prosecution in court shall be conducted in afitting dignity and perfect decorum, while labeling the taking ofphotographs in the courtroom and recording of live broadcast or
televising of court proceedings to be “calculated to allow lawyers tograndstand, detract the witness in giving his testimony …”

“From the above rule of Court the application for video screeningshould be and same is hereby denied forthwith and dismissed”, JudgeYamieQuiquiGbeisay ruled Tuesday, 21 February.

In filing the motion, prosecutors had suggested that since theadoption of Rule 11 of the General Rule of Court, there have beenadvancements in technology which they say make the presence of livescreening and broadcast of courtroom activity possible with lessintrusive means and distraction.

“That because it will be in accordance with international bestpractice that high profile cases of this nature which garnerinternational attention with vested interest of family and compatriots
in more than one jurisdiction is made available to instantaneousviewing the world over”, the pleaded.

Prosecutors’ request for the video recording and live broadcast of thecase was prompted by a doubt raised against the Liberian justicesystem by one of the defendants, Mr. Andrew Groves of Sable Mining.
Mr Groves had allegedly questioned the credibility of Liberia’sjustice system and suggested to the UK Government and its people thathe could not get a fair trial in Liberia because the country’s justice
system is deeply flawed and corrupt.

Mr. Groves and another Sable Mining representative Mr. Klaus Piprekwere jointly indicted later last year along with several Liberianofficials including former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene
Shannon, Mr.Richard Tolbert, Sen. Morris Saytumah and Mr. WillieBelleh after U.K. based watchdog group Global Witness reported thatSable Mining had offered bribes in tune of over US$950,000 to Liberianofficials to have a concession declared non-bidding in favor of thecompany.

The indictment drew them in economic sabotage trial that had formerHouse Speaker Alex Tyler dethroned by his colleagues last year fromthe nation’s third most powerful office to face prosecution.
Mr. Tyler and former ruling Unity Party Chair Sen. H. Varney G.Sherman, Nigerian national, Chris Onanuga and Mr. Ernest C.B Jones hadearlier been indicted over the same report last year.

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Ahead of the Court’s ruling against the request to allow videorecording and live broadcast of the proceedings, Mr. Tyler filedpapers on Monday, 20 February resisting the government request.
He had argued that there can be a live broadcast, “but if someoneharbors a preconceived notion that he or she cannot have free and fairtrial, live broadcast does not make the trial free, fair andtransparent in the mind and contemplation of the person who withoutany evidence preempts that he will not have a fair trial in theLiberian Courts”

By Winston W. Parley.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah


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