The 11thJudicial Circuit in Tubmanburg, Bomi County has sentenced to life imprisonment a 32 year-old man, Opa Baryu for murdering his colleague, Oldman Zubah in Faluku Community, Bomi County. Judge Everline Quoquoi handed down her ruling noting that she concurs with the guilty verdict by a team of jurors.
Opa was in August 2013 arrested by the Liberia National Police, charged with murder and sent to court when the dead body of Oldman Zubah , in his 60s, was discovered under a palm wine tree in Faluku Community, Klay District. His trial lasted for nearly eight months.
The defense team has therefore taken exception to the ruling noting that an appeal will be filed to the Supreme County of Liberia. Relatives of the late Oldman Zubah expressed satisfaction into the ruling saying although Opa’s sentence cannot repel their lost, the verdict would deter would-be-murderers.
Just after the verdict was announced, the defense council filed a motion for retrial of the case on grounds that there was no scientific evidence such as an autopsy to proof beyond reasonable doubt to hold the defendant liable for the crime levied. Defense noted that a “heard say/they say” account in the case bears no logic and has the propensity to unjustifiably punish an innocent man, thus describing Opa as a breadwinner.
This argument by defense was heard but state prosecutors counter argued that the verdict must be upheld noting that an autopsy in such situation is only admissible once the human and material accounts presented cannot absolutely be trusted by the court. It was further noted by prosecution that the motion filed by the defense council is a mere tactics to delay justice into the case and an autopsy would incur huge and wasteful financial constraints on the prosecution.
According to prosecuting team, it was holding Opa responsible for the offence based on several factors including eye witnesses’ accounts and circumstances surrounding the incident ranging from the manner and form he (Opa) disappeared from the community during the period of the incident and history of how both the victim and the accused fussed over palm wine thereby prompting a ruling by the elders in their community where Opa was demanded to resituate the wine.
Judge Everline Quoquoi acknowledged both defense and prosecution’s arguments and postponed ruling for last Tuesday, 11 March 2014 when she ruled in favor of prosecution.