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Liberia news

JFK trial frustrates court

JFK syndicate The Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice that is hearing the economic sabotage trial of several indictees in the John F. Kennedy Medical Center or JFKMC money laundering syndicate continues to face frustrating excuses that compels it to repeatedly suspend trial, warning prosecution “not to play with this court.”

“Let me inform all parties here that the Court operates on time and will not acquiesce to a deliberate delay on the part of the Prosecution for the trial of these proceedings. Hence, I hereby warn the Prosecution not to play with this Court when it comes to trial as in the instant Case,” Judge Emery S. Paye noted on Tuesday, 14 June.

His warning against the prosecution came Tuesday, just after earlier warning the defense counsels on Monday that the court will not operate by the instance of prosecution or defense counsels in reaction to the defense team’s request to waive jury trial despite already reaching a consensus for jury selection that necessitated a communication to the Chief Justice to secure necessary provisions.

“Now this court will not accept a game in this case. That is why I said this Court will not proceed at the will and pleasure of any of the Counsels in this Case. Having said all of these, the submission made by Counsellor Jargba, and reacted to by the Prosecution, will not be condoned by this Honorable Court,” the Judge said on Monday, 13 June.

Judge Paye only reconsidered his decision later at Monday’s hearing and assigned further hearing for Tuesday after prosecution added its voice to appeal in behalf of the defense, asking the court to temper justice with mercy and grant a bench trial requested by the defendants in the interest of justice, fair-play and speedy trial.

After four indictees entered plea bargaining with prosecution to pay back what they are accused of stealing, defendants Patrick Konuwah, Rebeah Arnus and Fahn F. Borbor remain on trial for economic sabotage, theft of property, money laundering, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation for allegedly diverting into their personal uses over L$16m and over US$126,000 of insurance companies’ payments meant for the JFK hospital.

They were among more than 15 persons indicted by government out of which only eight were arrested and incarcerated while the rest remain on the run, including a Central Bank of Liberia employee Prince Jallah and his wife, who was executive secretary to JFK CEO Grace Dolly Jallah, among others.

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But presiding Judge Paye is not happy that the case was slated for trial on Wednesday, 1 June and since then trial has not commenced “due to protracted delay.” He recalled that it was agreed upon Monday, 13 June after everything was laid to rest that trial could have commenced on Tuesday, 14 June at 10:00 a.m.

“At the call of the case on today’s date [14 June] the Defense Lawyers had collectively brought to the attention of this Court that some of the cardinal exhibits that should have been passed onto them by prosecution … have not been done so,” he said.

Having acknowledged that the prosecution had admitted to the fact, Judge Paye said in the mind of the court, it was the prosecution that took its case to court, but was “now delaying with the trial.” He said the court was surprised to hear that some of those exhibits which the defense counsels say include police charge sheet and investigative report have not been given to the defendants.

But the prosecution said it was in the process of photocopying the documents concerned and assured that it would submit them at the close of “business day.” 

By Winston W. Parley

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