GOL rejects return of US$200,000
-files Writ of Prohibition against Judge Blamo Dixon
By Lincoln G. Peters
The Government of Liberia has rejected Judge Blamo Dixon’s decision to return US$200,000 to four defendants who were acquitted and released in the US$100m cocaine case.
Government raised the contention thru a Writ of Prohibition here, Tuesday, May 23, asking the Supreme Court to place a stay order on the release of the money to the defendants, who have reportedly absconded after they were adjudged not guilty last Thursday, May 18, by trial jurors and set free by Judge Blamo of Criminal Court “C”.
Authorities here explain that (US$113,000) was allegedly confiscated from one Gustavo Henrique, who was tired by the government in absentia.
However, during his instruction to the jury, who found the defendants not guilty, the prosecution quoted Judge Dixon as saying that if the jurors returned with a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict, the US$200,000.00 seized from the defendants will be immediately returned.
In its petition, government argued that Judge Dixon’s order is erroneous because it is not in his purview to issue such order.
Moreover, the amount in question does not belong to any of the defendants that were acquitted as it was provided by Gustavo Henrique, to purchase a container, according to Malam Conte, one of the acquitted defendants.
According to the State, they reduced the amount from US$200,000.00 to US$113.000, which was the actual amount that Petitioner received and deposited at the Central Bank of Liberia with a copy of the confirmation of the deposit of the amount (US$113,000.00) in its possession.
However, the actual money on the indictment was 200k United States dollars but according to the government, after thorough investigation it realized that the money was 113,000, contrary to what the indictment had.
The petition maintains that as a consequence of his charge, the Trial Jury returned with a ‘NOT GUILTY’ verdict for the four defendants’ crimes, namely: Money Laundering, Unlicensed Possession of Controlled Drugs, Unlicensed Importation of Controlled Drugs and Criminal Conspiracy, thereby acquitting defendants Malam Conte, Adulai Djibril Djalo, Makki Ahmad Issam and Oliver A. Zayzay.
Petitioner explains that Judge A. Blamo Dixon, in announcing the verdict of the Jury and the acquittal of the defendants of the charges on Thursday, May 18, erroneously ordered the State to return to the defendants, US$210,000.00 (Two Hundred Ten Thousand United States Dollars) to which order Petitioner excepted and gave notice to take advantage of the statute.
“The minutes of Court of April 13, to form a cogent part of this petition. Gustavo Henrique absconded from Liberia upon learning of the arrest of Malam Conte on October 1, 2022, and was never brought under the jurisdiction of the court. Petitioner says that assuming but without admitting that the State is to return any money, it has to be based upon a process initiated by Gustavo Henrique,” Petitioner notes.
Petitioner says Judge Dixon erred in that the court had already been put on notice, the amount received by the Ministry of Justice, which was deposited at the Central Bank is US$113,000.00, not US$210.000.00.
Petitioner also says a Writ of Prohibition is a special proceeding to obtain a writ ordering the respondent to refrain from further pursuing judicial action or proceeding specified here. (See Chapter 16 Section 16.22 of Civil Procedure Law).
Petitioner notes that prohibition will also lie to stay the procedural mishap and the unlawful conduct of Judge Dixon and the order emanating therefrom on. Editing by Jonathan Browne