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Gov’t wants new trial in U.S. vehicles case

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Prosecutors here are seeking a new trial against defendants Armstrong Tony Campbell and Sheak K. Brown on grounds that a jury verdict in the case falls short of convicting or acquitting the indictees for economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.

“…[They] did not convict nor acquit Co-defendant Armstrong Tony Campbell for the offenses of Economic Sabotage and Criminal Conspiracy and Co-defendant Sheak k. Brown for the offenses of Economic Sabotage, Criminal facilitation and Criminal Conspiracy for which reasons a new trial should and ought to be awarded by operation of law,” prosecution said in a motion for new trial filed Monday, 14 August.

The jury verdict comes after months of trial at the Criminal Court “C” over allegedly smuggled seven U.S. vehicles for which the indictees were said to have underpaid taxes to government tax collectors at the Freeport of Monrovia.

In the room of deliberation, the jury panel was divided in its decision for each of the charges levied against the two indictees. Nine jurors found defendant Campbell guilty for criminal facilitation, but they say defendant Brown is not guilty of such crime. Three of the jury panel members went against this decision.

“The question then is what offense did he commit? In order words, the verdict of Guilty of Criminal Facilitation of Defendant Armstrong Tony Campbell presupposes that he must have committed one or more of the predicate offenses,” prosecutors have said.

The State lawyers are pondering as to how defendant Campbell can be held guilty by the jury for criminal facilitation, after it had already acquitted him of the predicate offenses of theft of property and smuggling and reached a hung verdict for the predicate offense of economic sabotage.

Eleven of the jurors found Campbell and Brown not guilty for theft of property, but one juror did not support this verdict.For the different charges levied against the indictees including economic sabotage, smuggling, criminal conspiracy, the jury panel always had a divided verdict, with much of the panel members deciding a not guilty verdict.

In resistance to prosecution’s motion for new trial, the defense team argues that in criminal prosecution, when a verdict is returned by a jury in favor of the defendant, the prosecution cannot except to such verdict on grounds that prosecution cannot appeal in criminal cases.

The defense says the trial judge is under duty to enter judgment in favor of the defendant, discharging the defendant from answering the crimes charged for which the accused stood trial.

–By Winston W. Parley

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