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Liberia: Court suspends Cummings hearing

As angry crowd clash with security officers

By Lincoln G. Peters


Three officers assigned at the Monrovia City Court, Temple of Justice where the ongoing forgery case between the Alternative National Congress (ALP) and the All Liberian Party is being heard sustained injuries Thursday, January 06, 2022, in clashes with angry crowd.

The assault was allegedly executed when supporters of the opposition Alternative National Congress and the Liberty Party were prevented from entering the courtroom during the hearing. 

The affected officers, a male from the Liberia National Police and two females of the judiciary security were subsequently rushed outside of the courtroom after the incident to a nearby medical facility for treatment.

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Scene at the court on Thursday

The police officer only identified as Flomo, was allegedly hit by a Motorola handset that belongs to a man believed to be a special assistant to embattled Liberty Party Chairman, Musa Bility.

“The police officer was hit by a Motorola and two persons have been arrested in connection to the incident”, City Judge Jomah Jallah explains while displaying the Motorola handset in question.

Meanwhile, the Presiding Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice Jumah Jallah has reserved ruling in a motion for requesting a televised public trial from prosecution lawyer in the criminal case involving the political leader of the Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, and suspended the case pending assignment.

But lawyers representing Mr. Cummings cry political witch-hunt on grounds that the motion has no legal basis.


During a pre-trial hearing Thursday, January 6, 2022, prosecution lawyer prayed his honor to Magistrate Jumah Jallah, Presiding Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court for a televised public hearing in the case, adding that their request is in line with Chapter 3 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

The prosecution lawyer argues that Chapter 3 of the Constitution provides that for speedy public trial, noting that the request is being made in good faith and prays that it be granted to inform Liberians in the ballick of the court and outside the court of happenings in the case.


But in counter-argument, lawyers representing Defendant Alexander Cummings also prays that Magistrate Jallah dismisses and denies said motion because the state has not shown any new law in this jurisdiction or historical fact to indicate that any court in the Republic under a democratic dispensation has had a televised trial.

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One of the victims

The defendant council submits, that this is clearly a politicized attempt to invade speedy disposal of the matter and engage the state into wasteful spending of very limited but must needed resources, adding that there is no procedure in the criminal code of Liberia to prescribe ways by which a televised trial may be conducted, and there is no known law that prescribes such manner.

The defendant’s lawyer continues that there will be no televised trial by the mere fact that the legislature has not enacted any law and therefore, nobody has the right to exercise such law in the country.


However, Magistrate Jallah provided seven minutes to both parties to argue and after the argument, responded, “This matter is suspended and ruling is reserved pending court trial or assignment therefore so order.”


The prosecution lawyer also prays for the amendment of the writ of arrest consistent with Title 2 of Liberia’s code of law revised criminal procedure law 14.17 to include the following names: Defendant Aloysius Toe, Secretary-General of the ANC, and Senator Daniel Natehn, chairperson of the party.


The prosecution says this submission is consistent with law and therefore, prays the magistrate to grant the request to bring those individuals before the law, but it was, however, rejected by the defendant’s lawyer, who questions if it’s an indictment or writ at any station and therefore submits.


Meanwhile, the court, having listened to the application, ruled that consistent with Chapter 16.7 of the criminal procedure law to amend the writ of arrest and to include Defendants Aloysius Toe and Senator Daniel Natehn as party defendants, considering no objection they are brought before the jurisdiction of the court.

However, before the matter was suspended, the defense at the start of the case prayed his honor Magistrate Jumah Jallah to grant the ANC political leader’s request for voluntary absence from the court in order to curtail the huge presence of onlookers and supporters in the premises of the Supreme Court that could also avoid tussling as well as in respect of COVID-19 protocol.


According to the defendants, their request is in accordance with Section 2.4, Sub-section 2 of the criminal law of Liberia which provides a voluntary absence from court.


But in counter-argument, prosecution lawyer Cllr. Syrenius Cephus challenged and resisted the motion, arguing that the object and purpose of Section 2.4 of the criminal procedure law of Liberia Title 2 state that a criminal shall be present in court at every time unless during a period of motion or health problem which guarantees basis for non-appearance.


The Solicitor-General continues that the defendant has not shown clear health, legal and other grounds to warrant the brief absence of Mr. Cummings from the proceeding, thus praying the court to dismiss the motion.

Speaking on counts two and three, in which the defendants spoke about the huge crowd and COVID-19 registration, the prosecution lawyer says the law and procedure provide that they are brought to court and if anybody wants to partake in the proceeding, must follow the rules, adding that attacks by alleged supporters of ANC and the LP were premeditated.


However, the court presents that it will be a reversible error to grant the defendant brief absence of court when in fact, he has not pleaded to the writ, as to whether or not he is guilty of the offense charged, thereby joining issue with the state, adding that therefore, in the foregoing, the request made by the council of defendants are hereby denied and trashed.

Mr. Cummings has been taken to court by the political leader of the All Liberian Party Benoni W. Urey, for allegedly altering the framework document of the now disintegrated four Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).https://thenewdawnliberia.com/cummings-hints-cpp-exit-i-will-contest-alone/ Editing by Jonathan Browne

NewDawn

The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by the Searchlight Communications Inc. Office is located on The UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is a bilingual (both English & French).
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