By Lincoln G. Peters
Liberia’s former Chief Justice Cllr. Francis Johnson-Allison says the rule of law in Liberia is at stake due to extreme poverty.
Cllr. Johnson-Allison spoke to this paper in an interview following a guilty verdict brought against former Liberian Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musus Scott and three members of her family were tried for murder and other crimes.
The jury panel, except one of its members, decided that the accused were guilty of the murder of Charloe Musu, daughter of Cllr. Scott.
But Cllr. Johnson-Allison said she was very disappointed in the jurors’ verdict, lamenting their alleged failure to properly examine the facts and evidence presented.
She pointed out that Liberia’s justice system is seriously challenged and all that is happening is due to poverty.
She noted that people who have no means of income are jurors, lamenting that this is a challenge to the rule of law.
“I’m very, very disappointed in the jurors’ decision. To admit, to me their minds were already made and instructed to do as to what they do … because they didn’t examine any fact,” she said.
“Because we pointed out everything, but this is what poverty does. In our country, when people are poor and don’t have any kind of serious economic means to survive they will do this. So, the rule of law is at stake because of poverty,” Cllr. Johnson-Allison noted.
After over five months of trial, she said it’s so disappointing that someone will go in a room to deliberate on a verdict, and in less than 30 minutes they come out with a guilty verdict.
She alleged that it’s obvious that they were allegedly programmed and tempered.
She stated that there were other Liberians including former President Tubman’s son, Richard Tubman who was killed at home without a break-in.
She suggested that someone can’t say the accused were brought down guilty because there was no sign of a break-in at Cllr. Scott’s residence.
“It’s not because the jurors’ ruling didn’t come in my favor for which I’m talking this way. But, the evidence,” she noted.
“All the different inconsistencies and contradictions pointed out were not looked at. Under the law, the less doubt, called reasonable doubt, the defendants will be entitled to an acquittal. And there were many reasonable doubts in the case. And those people didn’t take notice of them,” Cllr. Johnson-Allison stated.
She lamented that the government just wanted to prove from this case that it is tough on crimes.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Johnson-Allison said she believes in the Supreme Court legal minds who are sitting at the court.
“I believe in the legal minds that are sitting up there. They are not like those jurors who are lay people. I [am] convinced that the verdict will not stand before them, it will not be sustained,” she noted.
“I’m convinced that the jurors were tempered with. In fact, we reported to the court that the Solicitor General tried to infiltrate the jurors. Investigation was conducted and he said he didn’t. How sure are we that they didn’t succeed,” she noted.