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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Alleged drug traffickers to testify in US$100 million cocaine bust case

By Lincoln G. Peters

The four alleged drug traffickers in the US100 Million ongoing drug bust trial are expected to take the witness stand on Wednesday, April 12.

The suspects are expected to testify to the crimes of drugs trafficking, and money laundering among others at the Criminal Court “C”.

The trial grows out of the Saturday, October 1, 2022, US$100 million worth of cocaine busted at a TRH rented facility on the Japanese Freeway in Topoe Village by joint Liberian security operation.

The four defendants and others to be identified were indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on charges including money laundering, as well as unlicensed possession and importation of controlled drugs, and criminal conspiracy.

Defendants Malam Conte, Adulai Djibri Djalo, Makki Admeh Issam and Oliver A. Zayzay, and others to be identified were indicted on the four counts by the Grand Jury.

According to the indictment, Conte, Djalo, Issam, Zayzay, and others to be identified conspired, colluded, and facilitated to commit the crime of Money Laundering, which is a felony of the first-degree, and the unlicensed importation of controlled drug or substance.

The possession of unlicensed controlled drugs or substances is also a felony of the first degree and criminal conspiracy, a felony of the second degree.

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The indictment also noted that the act of the defendants is contrary to Section 15.2 of the Money Laundering Act, 2.2(b) of the Penal Law of Liberia, and against the peace and dignity of Liberia.

Also, the indictment states that the acts allegedly committed by the defendants are contrary to Section 14.102 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act 2014 and 2.2(b) of the Penal Law of Liberia as well as against the peace and dignity of Liberia.

At the trial on Monday, April 10, Counsel for the defendants prayed the court for continuance until Wednesday, April 12, to enable him to prepare a proper defense.

“Therefore, Counsels for defendants respectfully pray your honor to grant defense continuance until Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in order to prepare themselves to put up a proper defense for the defendants. Counsels say this request is made in good fate and in the interest of justice and fairness for defendants. Counsels so prayed and respectfully submit,” the defense pleaded.

The defense averred that the continuance is intended to enable them to review the prosecution evidence in consultation with the defendants to enable them to outline their strategy for proceeding with their defense.

“We say, the defense was not aware or expecting that the prosecution would rest their side of the case at this time and the witness for the defense are not ready. Therefore, the defense Team needs time to examine and review the evidence submitted by the prosecution and discuss same with the defendant especially as to the content of the cell phone and the video clips or CCTV that were produced by the prosecution. The laws will need comments from the defendants on the contents of the telephone and the video CCTV recording” they noted.

Meanwhile, the court noted the defendants’ Counsels application and asked the prosecution to respond.

However, in their response to the application prayed for by the defense, prosecution rejected the application and asked the court to trash the request.

Prosecution argued that the defense application for continuance is in total bad fate because it is a tactic implored by the defense team to bring about unnecessary delays in the trial.

The prosecution argued that the defense team participated in the trial and traveled along with the prosecution while it submitted its evidence to the court and the jury and the minute of the court have been available to the defense lawyers on a sitting-by-sitting basis on the trial.

Therefore, the prosecution team noted that the application is improvident for the defense claim that it is unprepared to continue with the trial at this time.

Prosecution further indicated that the ground provided for in the status for continuance has not been met by the defense team.

Prosection lawyers say the defense refused to provide any ground as stated in section 1.6 of sub-paragraph four (4) of the Criminals Procedure Law wherein the basis for continuance is spelled out. The prosecution maintained that from the defense submission, it can be seen as woeful neglect of their responsibility as defense counsels, adding that their application is only intended to delay the trial.

“Therefore, the submission being without legal foundation but mere show of unpreparedness by them and to delay this trial should be sent and they should be ordered by ‘Your Honor’ to proceed to outline the theory of their case in today’s sitting and proceed therefrom.

Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing, prosecution prayed the court to deny, disallow and dismissed the request for continuance as prayed for by the defense and grant unto prosecution every and all further reliefs which your honor finds just, legal, and equitable” the prosecution prayed.

However, after listening to both sides of the argument, the presiding judge granted the defense application for continuance.

” The court says, the resistance of the prosecution is hereby noted. The court is inclined to grant the request of the defense team for continuance up to Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at 10: 30 am. Since the counsels and parties are present in court, the minutes of the court shall constitute a valid and regular notice of assessment. That is to say, no written notice of assessment shall be issued out of the court in connection with the case. Please be present and on time. There being no other matter to claim the attention of the court in open court. Court stands adjourned, so ordered” the court concluded.

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