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Gov’t tussles with own subpoenaed witness

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Lawyers representing government in the trial of opposition lawmaker Rep. YekehKolubah for alleged kidnapping, dramatically prompted a conference to be held to ensure Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie ascertained whether or not, their subpoenaed witness from Plan International Atty. Augustine Williams interacted with defense lawyers ahead of his testimony.

The court – initiated conference on prosecution’s request could not establish from the sheriff and bailiff that the defense had interfered with the witness, as Judge Willie allows the hearing to proceed and gives Atty. Williams up to Friday, 1 May at 9:30 AM to present evidence that he represents Plan International before he testifies.

Judge Willie subsequently reschedules the case for Friday, but as he tries to leave the courtroom, a heated argument suddenly erupts with Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin challenging Atty. Williams’ assertion that his law firm Liberia Law Society has retainer-ship with Plan International, qualifying him to represent the organization.

Atty. Williams’ assertion came earlier in response to Judge Willie’s question as to what proof he had that he is the lawyer for Plan International in the case.

Until the witness can present the copy of the retainer-ship showing that he represents Plan International, Judge Willie says Atty. Williams is not qualified to speak for Plan International.

Though the question and answer session between Judge Willie and Atty. Williams was not interrupted by the lawyers at the time, Cllr. Martin later argued after the hearing that in many cases Atty. Williams represented a different law firm, but not Liberia Law Society, saying Atty. Williams is about to spoil his own record.

But defense lawyer Cllr. Finley Karngan counter argues that Atty. Williams can work for as many law firms.

In the drama that unfolded as the State – subpoenaed witness Atty. Williams appeared Thursday, government lawyer Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh requested the court earlier for investigation to be conducted to determine whether the witness had not been contaminated by the defense.

The basis of Cllr. Wesseh’s alarm was that the witness, while entering the court premises, was escorted by one of the defense counsels to a seat.But defense lawyer Cllr. Karngar dismissed the allegation, saying he did not know who had come to represent Plan International as a witness.

Following the court’s intervention, Judge Willie says during the meeting, the sheriff indicated that he could not speak to that because he was not in court, but rather in the judge’s office attending to other matters when the witness came in the courtroom.

The judge says the bailiff answered in the negative when asked if he saw the witness interacting with the defense counsel.

Judge Willie however warns that the court will legally penalize any party when caught interfering with a witness.

Mr. Kolubah is standing trial for a charge of alleged kidnapping, after the court recently dropped multiple charges contained in an indictment drew against him last year over claim that he instructed his bodyguards to get one Emmanuel Freeman by all cause.

The lawmaker was jointly indicted with the security guards and supporters in person of Abu Keita, Johnson Kpor, Oliver Kanneh, Levi Blackie, Mohammed S. Kabah, Mohammed A. Kabah and Frank O. Morgan. But the State later dropped charges against the lawmaker’s bodyguards and used them as state witnesses against him.

The defense has rested with production of evidence, but the court is expected on Friday, 1 May to hear from witnesses subpoenaed on the request of the State following which the trial could move to final argument.
By Winston W. Parley

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