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Taylor drawn in kidnapping trial

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Liberian prosecutors have drawn imprisoned former President Charles Ghankay Taylor’s actions in an ongoing trial of opposition lawmaker Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, as they liken the latter’s alleged order for his former bodyguards to arrest Emmanuel Freeman to how Mr. Taylor similarly instructed Gen. Mosquito to go to Sierra Leone.

Ahead of the court’s final ruling due Wednesday, 6 May at 10:30 AM, Assistant Justice Minister Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh asserted during the final argument Tuesday that Mr. Kolubah’s chief bodyguard Abu Keita testified that he was instructed by his boss Rep. Kolubah “almost like Charles Taylor instructing Gen. Mosquito” to go to Sierra Leone. “Honorable Yekeh Kolubah had told them to bring the man by all cause, like Taylor telling Gen. Mosquito go in Sierra Leone by all cause,” Cllr. Wesseh says, adding that the defendant directed and executed the kidnapping of Emmanuel Freeman.

Mr. Taylor who is serving a 50 – year prison term in a British cell was convicted for allegedly aiding and abetting crimes against humanity at the end of a trial that followed Sierra Leone’s arm conflict in which he was accused of arming and supporting child soldiers.

Mr. Kolubah is standing trial for alleged kidnapping, after the court recently dropped multiple charges contained in an indictment drew against him last year over claim that he instructed his bodyguards to get victim Freeman by all cause for refusing a T – Shirt printed to protest against President George Manneh Weah’s administration in June 2019.

The lawmaker was from the onset jointly indicted with the security guards and supporters in person of Abu Keita, Johnson Kpor, Oliver Kanneh, Levi Blackie, Mohammed S. Kabah, Mohammed A. Kabah and Frank O. Morgan. But the State later dropped charges against the lawmaker’s bodyguards and used them as state witnesses against him.

“Once you have direct control over your men, they execute your orders, you can be held for their actions. Taylor was found guilty not because he physically went on the war front [in Sierra Leone], but he had control over his men on the war front,” Cllr. Wesseh adds.

He claims that the prosecution has established that kidnapping occurred because witnesses have testified in the trial that Rep. Kolubah’s men took Freeman from his house to the defendant’s yard. Continuing with the State’s side of the final argument, Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin K. Martin insists that the action of the agent as to the instruction of the principal, if the action of the agent is criminal, that principal is highly responsible.

However, Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie questioned Cllr. Martin as to why prosecution didn’t rebut an important testimony given by defense witness Mohammed Kaba and Rep. Kolubah that Freeman was held for a stolen phone, when the State otherwise says that Freeman was kidnapped for refusing a T – Shirt.

In response, Cllr. Martin says the incident of kidnapping occurred on 5 June because Freeman disobeyed the order of Yekeh Kolubah, while the incident of the phone occurred on 4 June.

According to him, these bodyguards were recruited by Rep. Kolubah who allegedly trained and equipped them, saying the lawmaker did not state that the bodyguards were trained by the Armed Forces of Liberia, (AFL), the police or a professional private security firm.He tells the court that Freeman was kidnapped on 5 June 2019 because he disobeyed the order of Yekeh Kolubah, pleading with the court to adjudge the defendant guilty of the crime of kidnapping.

Responding to issues of former Liberian President Taylor raised by the prosecution, defense lawyer Cllr. Jimmy Bombo states that if you hire young people, give them guns to kill human beings, that scenario is different from what they are in court for.He argues that vicarious liability does not apply in the case because kidnapping is about unlawful removal of a person from their place and unlawful confinement of that person.

He argues that state witness Emmanuel Freeman testified that he was arrested by Abu Keita and Koon for allegedly stealing a phone, adding that at no time did Freeman say he was confined by Yekeh. He notes that Yekeh had no knowledge as to what was happening outside that night of June 5.

Further arguing for the defense, Cllr. Finley Karnga claims that the action by the State is intended to silence opposition voices, noting that Kolubah is being tried not because of law, but because he is a loud voice for the people in the Legislature.

Cllr. Karnga asks the court to set Mr. Kolubah free because there was extreme failure on the part of the State to rebut the testimony of Mohammed Kaba who said Emmanuel was held for a stolen phone, adding that the ordering of having Emmanuel handcuffed to the market table was done by Abu Keita but not the lawmaker.

He insists that the perpetrators’ action was far removed from their official work as it did not occur during their working time.He concludes that there were material variances in the testimonies of the state witnesses, adding that the elements provided for under kidnapping law were not established by the state.
By Winston W. Parley

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