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Court grants Vandala Patricks travel permit

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The Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has granted a travel permit for indicted self-proclaimed advocate VandalaPatricks to seek medical examination abroad. Indictee Patricks, who faces sedition and criminal libel against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has complained of health problem after he claimed to have been mal-handled by state security personnel during arrest last month in Monrovia.

He has sought permit to travel out of Liberia for medical checkup because the country has no MRI machine, except a non-functional CT-Scan.MRI is Magnetic Resonance Imaging that uses a large magnet, radio waves and computer to create a detailed cross-sectional image of a patient’s internal organs and structure; while CT-Scan is a Computerized Tomography that uses a computer that takes data from several X-ray images of structures inside a human or animal body and convert them into pictures on monitor.

Liberia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Doctor Sampson K. Arzo Acquoi, told a court hearing on Monday, 28 March that he was aware of a “currently non-functional” CT-Scan at the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Refferal Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County.

“I am not aware of existence of MRI in the Republic of Liberia as far as my knowledge and experience goes,” said Doctor Acquoi yesterday. The prosecution announced appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court, saying it was “interlocutory” to the trial court; but Presiding Judge J. Boima Kontoe said, “… this ruling being interlocutory the appeal is denied.”

Patricks was indicted in February after he accused the Government of being involved in eliminating political opponents just after the gruesome dead body of the ex-managing director of the former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC Mr. Harry Greaves, Jr. was found naked ashore near the beach on January 31.

But the indictee has accused riot officers of harming him with an instrument while being taken to the Monrovia Central Prison, and has since been seeking medical attention abroad after his lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe secured a cash bond of US$3,000.

In granting the special leave, Judge Kontoe requested Patricks’ lawyer Cllr. Gongloe to reference his criminal appearance bond tendered by him to give further assurance that the defendant will abide by the terms and condition of the special leave.

The acting director of the SOS Medical Hospital in Congo Town, who is defendant Patricks’ attending doctor, had said in a medical report submitted to the court that the defendant should seek medical care abroad so that a CT-Scan or MRI can be done for further evaluation of his condition and treatment.

After prosecution and defense counsels argued the doctor’s advice for Patricks to get examined abroad, Presiding Criminal Court “A” Judge J. Boima Kontoe ruled there was no factual and legal grounds for the court to deny the defendant’s request to travel given that there is no functional CT-Scan in Liberia.

“The deputy chief medical [officer] having appeared and testified under oath to the effect that at the moment, there is no functional CT-Scan machine in Liberia as the one that is [at] Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita is now dysfunctional, the issue is settled that there is no available CT-Scan or MRI in Liberia,” Judge Kontoe said.

The judge said the indictee should “travel abroad between now and the commencement of the May Term of Court” to attend to his health. He ordered the clerk of court to prepare a special permit and address it to all law enforcement officers here to allow Patricks to travel abroad.

Meanwhile, the commencement of the case, Judge Kontoe held two prosecution lawyers in contempt and fined them US$20.00 each payable in 24 hours because he said, their conduct proved “false to their oath of attorney ship to respect the court of this Republic.”

The contempt charge against Attorneys Kpoto Gizzie and P. Adelyn Cooper came after making representation on behalf of prosecution before leaving the courtroom without excuse to have the State’s subpoena witness Doctor Acquoi fomaliarized with what was expected in the courtroom.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne

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