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Liberia news

Gov’t feels insecure

Prosecutors are feeling insecure with the remaining 12-member jury panel in the ongoing US$800,000 plus economic sabotage trial of two former National Port Authority or NPA officials, complaining to the Supreme Court that to maintain the contaminated panel will operate “prejudicially” against prosecution.

In a challenge to the Criminal Court “C’s” decision to only remove three jurors from the panel after alleged jury tempering investigation in the trial of former NPA Managing Director Ms. Matilda Parker and her comptroller Mrs. Christina Kpabar-aelay, prosecutors sought a writ of certiorari which has resulted to a stay order on the proceedings.

The prosecution expresses fears that the rest of the 12 jurors that are still on the panel had for over two months been with ex-jury foreman Kissi Kamara and jurors Kebbeh Kollie and Melvin Neowen who were implicated, and that they had interacted over that period.

“… And more over, the remaining jurors who are being made to sit over the case were all present during the investigation and witnessed the proceedings where the defense counsels acted as lawyers for the jurors which operates against the prosecution,” the petitioners argued.

Ms. Parker and Mrs. Paelay were due to face prosecutors’ sixth witness on Monday, 22 February before the state lawyers secured the writ dated February 19 in which the high court orders Criminal Court “C” to stay all further proceedings and send a full copy of the matter to the Justice- in- Chambers Jamesetta H. Wolokolie.

They are facing charges of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal facilitation over claims of awarding wreck removal and security consultancy contracts in the tune of US$837,950 to co-defendant Deneah Martin Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise that were allegedly never implemented.

The petitioners are suggesting that to ignore the fact and maintain the 12-member jury panel “that have been contaminated …” will operate prejudicially against the prosecution for which the petition would lie.

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They also accused presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge A. Blamo Dixon of being “bias and … inconsistent with the law” for not prescribing punishment for judicial cook Janneh Kamara and Assistant Jury Manager Peter W. Fayiah “who lied under oath and tempered with the jury.”

The two judicial workers denied accusations by bailiff Bendu Dukuly that they were sources of series of communications intended for the jurors, two of which were allegedly addressed to jurors Kebbeh Kollie and Melvin Teah Neowen centering on money and admonishment of the panel.

But the prosecution says bailiffs Roland Nyankoon and Bendu Dukuly who testified during the jury tempering investigation were instead penalized by the court, as they argue that though police intercepted the letters authored by Mr. Fayiah and Madam Kamara the language therein clearly shows that they had previous contact with the jurors “and they had requested for money from the woman.”

The state lawyers have equated Judge Dixon’s “failure” to indicate that Madam Kamara and Mr. Fayiah are perpetrators and his refusal to penalize those involved to a “gross error” that they say undermines the efforts to improve the credibility of the judiciary.

They are further taking issues with Judge Dixon for “prejudicially” declining prosecution’s request to subpoena the judiciary to produce cook Janneh Kamara’s employment records, in an effort to exhibit her handwriting, her phone number and children, on grounds that investigation showed ex-jury foreman Kissi Kamara to be her son.

The Supreme Court has ordered that the respondents, including Judge Dixon and defendants Parker and Paelay to appear before the Chamber Justice at the Supreme Court Room on Monday, 29 February at 9am to show cause why the prosecution’s petition as prayed for should not be granted.

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

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