The “uncertainty” of the length of time that the matter involving two former National Port Authority or NPA officials will be handled by the Supreme Court of Liberia has resulted to the high court’s order forCriminal Court “C” to disband the jury panel which prosecutors earlier accused of being contaminated.
Last week, Justice -in -Chambers JamesettaWolokolie ordered presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge A. Blamo Dixon, former NPA Managing Director Ms. Matilda Parker and comptroller Christina Kpabar-Paelay to appear at the Supreme Court after issuing a writ of certiorari which resulted to a stay order on the proceedings.
Prosecutors ran to the Supreme Court, raising issues against a 12-member jury panel maintained in the trial of Ms. Parker and Mrs. Paelay by Judge Dixon after removing from the panel three jurors thatwere implicated into an alleged jury tempering claim raised by the prosecution.
But the Supreme Court sent down a mandate to the lower court to disband the jury panel sitting in the matter “due to manifest necessity.” “The report of the clerk is hereby noted. In view thereof, the jury is hereby disbanded in keeping with the Mandate of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia,” Judge Dixon said after the reading of the highcourt’s mandate on 29 February.
Prosecution had expressed complete lack of confidence in the 12 jurors that were still on the panel after ex-jury foreman Kissi Kamara, and jurors KebbehKollie and Melvin Neowen were removed from the panel.
“… And moreover, 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 thejurors which operates against the prosecution,” the petitioners argued.
Ms. Parker and Mrs. Paelay were indicted for alleged economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal facilitation over claims of awarding wreck removal and security consultancy contracts in the tuneof US$837,950 to co-defendant Deneah Martin Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise company that were allegedly never implemented.
Two judicial workers in person of Peter W. Fayiah and cook Janneh Kamara were accused by Bailiff BenduDukuly that they were sources of series of communications intended for the jurors, two of which were allegedly addressed to jurors KebbehKollie and Melvin TeahNeowen.
The communications allegedly centered on money and admonishment of the panel. But the prosecution said bailiffs Roland Nyankoon and BenduDukuly who testified during the jury tempering investigation were instead penalized by the court.
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 underminesthe efforts to improve the credibility of the judiciary.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne