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U.S. stolen cars custody rotates

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn Liberia

Following defendants accusation that one of the seven vehicles allegedly stolen from the U.S. is in the possession of an unnamed government official, Prosecutors in the ongoing trial say they will produce the keys of the vehicles Criminal Court “C” Sheriff this Friday, 4 August.

The seven vehicles have been parked at the Liberia National Police Headquarters’ parking lot since the U.S Embassy here handed the cars in question over to the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Government’s latest decision announced on Tuesday, 1 August comes as a result of defendants Sheak K. Brown and Armstrong Tony Campbell’s lawyers’ claims that they believe to be true, information that one of the seven vehicles is in possession of an unnamed government official who has refused to surrender it.

In the course of the trial against defendants Brown and Campbell, two of four persons indicted for smuggling stolen cars to Liberia, it took government’s diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. Embassy which earlier took custody of the vehicles, to surrender them to Court through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But nearing the conclusion of the case, the defense team is raising issues that its enquiry with the Sheriff’s office reveals that the six keys to the six cars that were submitted by the U.S. Embassy “are not under the jurisdiction of this court”, but still under police custody.

“Counsel says for the six vehicles to be under the jurisdiction of this Court, the keys to said six vehicles must be in the possession and custody of the Sheriff as under our law the Sheriff … is the Custodian of all materials, equipment … brought under the jurisdiction of this Court”, the defense argues.

While prosecution insists that there is nowhere under the laws here that compels it to produce the keys of the stolen cars that were “lawfully seized”, it however decides to produce the keys this Friday so that the trial is not delayed.

Given prosecution’s agreement to produce the keys, the Court chooses not to dwell on such matter, but rather says it expects prosecution to produce the seventh car before final argument is heard in the case.

Except for four rebuttal witnesses produced by prosecution on Tuesday, 2 August, the two parties have announced that they rest with the production of oral and documentary evidences in the case.

Final argument could be heard next week Wednesday or Thursday, following the submission of legal memorandum by each of the parties. On the witness stand, defendant Brown says his cousin Anthony called him from the U.S. sometimes in 2016, requesting him to find broker for two containers that had seven vehicles on them.

Defendant Brown claims that his role was that he contacted Broker Morris K. Kiatamba and introduced him to his cousin Anthony upon arrival from America. He claims that Anthony joined Kiatamba to carry on the declaration of the seven vehicles. He acknowledges that he made statement at the police station.

By Winston W. Parley

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