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Gov’t claims jury tempering

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Madam Parker NDProsecutors are claiming that from all indications, jurors in the US$800,000 plus economic sabotage trial against former National Port Authority or NPA Managing Director Ms. Matilda Parker and her comptroller Mrs. Christina Kpabar-Paelay “had been tempered with” and should be disbanded.

“… It is the prayer of the Applicant that the sequestrated Jurors be disbanded in the interest of Justice, a New Trial in these proceedings ordered, the person (s) found to have perpetrated the tempering of the Jurors be penalized consistent with Law and grant unto Applicant any and all further relief as Your Honor may deem Just, legal and necessary,” the prosecution request said.

The State lawyers have attached to the application, an instrument with an unknown author purporting to be writing the jury panel on January 30, trying to assure them that they will get their money, while advising them against talking over phone because people are trying to jail them.

One of the counsels for the two former NPA officials Atty. Arthur T. Johnson was seen on Friday, 12 February at the Criminal Court “C,” Temple of Justice trying to secure prosecution’s application so as to respond to it.

But this paper did not ascertain what is in the defense team’s response against prosecution’s request to disband the jury because the defense had not filed their response with the court up to the time the NewDawn left the court premises over the weekend.

Interestingly, the state has now began making open criticism against the jurors’ decision to go to hospital and hold incamera discussions with doctors or nurses outside of the hearing of the prosecution and defense, contending that the purpose of sequestrating jurors is to seclude them from the public eye.

“Prosecution submits that this act is the first of its kind for the full panel to report for medical examination,” the state lawyers said, adding that the exposure of the jurors undermines the spirit and intent of sequestration.

Ms. Parker and Mrs. Paelay have been facing several months of trial under charges of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy over claim that the NPA under their administration failed to implement US$800,000 plus wreck removal and security consultancy contracts awarded Mr. Debeah Martin Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise.

But if presiding Judge A. Blamo Dixon rules in favor of the government upon receiving the defense’s response, it will mean that the State will be seeking a new trial. In making their case against the jury, the prosecution wrote the court to complain how jury questions posed to first state witness D. Blamo Koffa on January 11 showed “the jurors’ combined effort against the State, particularly citing the Foreman Kissi S. Kamara’s question as an example.

The prosecution quote the Juror Kaman’s question to witness Kofa as saying: “Mr. witness, why do you give answers to other questions when you are asked something specific?” Prosecution argues that this question explains the view of the jurors that the witness had not presented any facts with respect to the case at bar, adding further that an earlier expression of opinion by jurors in the case is a ground to disband the jury.

They alleged that the jurors were communicated with, and that said communications were intercepted by police as a result of argument between two bailiffs in person of Mr. Roland Nyankoon and Madam Bindu Dukuly, both of the Criminal Court “C” assigned to the jury room.

“Prosecution says that Bailiff Dukuly was found with an instrument presented to the jurors and upon the inquiry of Bailiff Nyankoon, [a] heated argument ensued,” the prosecution says. The state said it was this alleged argument that prompted police intervention and subsequently retrieved the instruments referenced, concluding that from all indications, the jurors have been tempered with.

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

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