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Soldiers return defendants to court

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaA group of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia, who recently held a judge hostage in the Bensonville Magisterial Court outside Monrovia and forcibly led away two defendants on trial along with evidences, have reportedly returned the defendants to the Magisterial Court, including the evidences they allegedly seized.

Magistrate Edwin K. Gayflor, who complained that he and his staff were recently held hostage by the uniformed armed officers led by Lt. /Col. Theophilus Dahn from 1pm to 6:30pm, confirmed Wednesday, 14 January that the soldiers returned the defendants and the seized evidences to the court on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

But Magistrate Gayflor was clear in conversation with this paper that this does not mean he was leaving the matter as complained.

He said Lt. /Col. Dahn will on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 appear before the Bensonville Magisterial Court where the incident occurred.

It is not however clear under what order the court has instructed Officer Dahn and his lawyer to appear before it, though it had officially complained him to the Court Administration at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia more than a week ago in a letter dated January 7, 2015.

This week Monrovia was hit by news of a group of army officers being complained for holding the court hostage for several hours and forcibly taking away two defendants – James Kerkula and Robert Togba, including evidences in an alleged criminal trespass and mischief case.

The Magistrate said the officers walked into open court and demanded the immediate release of the two criminal defendants [without being authorized].

Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs, David K. Dahn, said the Ministry of National Defense could not intervene in the matter because it was before the court, when contacted by The NewDawn.

He further said the Ministry did not receive such complaint and its authorities were not there when the incident occurred, saying, only the Court which received the complaint knew exactly what to do and the Ministry would cooperate.

“Madam Court Administrator, as the two criminal defendants were given their right and preliminary examination began, Lt./Col. Dahn ordered me to immediately release the two defendants to him or I will see what he will do to me, which I refused and told him that only a Lawyer can bail these defendants through a proper valid criminal appearance bond,” Magistrate Gayflor had explained.

He said Officer Dahn walked into the court and personally held the hands of the two defendants, who were on trial and led them out of the court.

Magistrate Gayflor said the officer additionally entered his chamber “illegally” and took away the Fruit of the Crime or FOC, two power saws and a bag of contraband used in the commission of the crime of criminal trespass and criminal mischief against the property of one Mr. Siafa Bright and the State in particular.

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