Liberia: Acquitted Defendants Flee Nation, Leaving Behind Seized Cash, As Justice Minister Condemns Courtroom’s Verdict

Liberia: Acquitted Defendants Flee Nation, Leaving Behind Seized Cash, As Justice Minister Condemns Courtroom’s Verdict

Monrovia — Barely 24 hours after being acquitted of all costs linked to the infamous US$100 million cocaine bust in Monrovia, all 4 defendants have reportedly fled the nation, abandoning the US$200,000 to be returned to them as ordered by the court docket following their acquittal final Thursday.

The Minister of Justice and Lawyer Common, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, has expressed his disappointment with the decision issued final Thursday. He has raised considerations concerning the sudden departure of the defendants from the nation following their acquittal, questioning the validity of their declare of innocence in mild of this motion.

“The court docket ordered the return of the two-hundred thousand United States {dollars} seized by the joint safety in the course of the arrest of the 4 males, so why are they not round to obtain their cash in the event that they know they don’t have anything to run from?” Min. Dean questioned.

Cllr. Dean condemned the decision, stating that it undermines the collective efforts of Liberia and its worldwide companions in combating the unlawful transit of illicit medicine by way of West Africa.

The acquitted people embody Makki Ahmed Issam, Adulai Djalo, Oliver Zayzay, and Malam Conte, who had been tried on costs of cash laundering, unlicensed possession of managed medicine, unlicensed importation of managed medicine, and prison conspiracy.

Zayzay, a Liberian citizen, together with two different overseas nationals, was arrested on the Sierra Leone border with Liberia on October 5, 2022, whereas making an attempt to flee Liberia following the bust.

“There was $100 million USD price of medicine stacked in a container that landed in Monrovia, and the accused had been caught red-handed making an attempt to take possession of the container holding the illicit drug by making an attempt to bribe the businessman housing the container. But, the court docket, by way of the empaneled 12-man jury, stated such brazen proof did not warrant a responsible verdict. What extra can the joint safety and the Justice Ministry do to persuade the court docket that the regulation was damaged?” he retorted.

Minister Dean additional identified that such verdicts solely reinforce the extensively held notion, each regionally and internationally, that the judiciary, notably the courts, could also be compromised. He raised the query of whether or not Liberia ought to proceed with the standard jury trial course of, contemplating the continued debate concerning the unethical follow of jury tampering throughout such trials.

In the meantime, the joint safety forces are persevering with their seek for the 4 males who stay at giant, intensifying efforts to carry them to justice.

Judicial Reform Wanted

This case serves as a stark reminder of the challenges confronted by Liberia in combating drug trafficking, particularly contemplating the nation’s historical past as a transit zone for narcotic medicine destined for Europe and different components of the world.

The problems surrounding the jury trial system in Liberia have additionally come to the forefront. Authorized specialists proceed to lift considerations concerning the composition of the jury, with many people assigned to jury service being financially deprived and probably missing a complete understanding of the instances offered earlier than them. As well as, the shortage of enough funding for prosecutors has resulted in inadequate trial preparation, resulting in a excessive fee of case losses for the federal government.

These points have raised doubts concerning the equity and effectiveness of the present system and resulted in a excessive fee of case losses for the federal government.

The dearth of enough funding for prosecutors is one other vital concern. Prosecutors are sometimes not given adequate sources and assist, hampering their means to totally put together for trials, in line with a state prosecutor who spoke to FrontPageAfrica on the situation of anonymity.

“Insufficient trial preparation can result in weaker arguments, difficulties in presenting proof, and finally a better probability of dropping instances. This not solely undermines the federal government’s means to safe convictions but in addition erodes public belief within the authorized system,” the prosecutor stated.

Authorized specialists say statistics reveal a 75% loss fee for the Liberian authorities in instances as a result of jury trial and low funding for prosecutors.

“The present system is failing to ship justice successfully, notably in high-profile instances. Consequently, there have been requires alternate options to the jury system, comparable to bench trials the place judges assess the proof and make determinations. Advocates argue that this might mitigate the affect of inexperienced or underprepared jurors and place extra duty on judges to make sure truthful and neutral selections,” the authorized skilled stated.

Along with contemplating different trial procedures, discussions have additionally arisen round amending and repealing sure legal guidelines to deal with the shortcomings of the authorized system.

“Systemic adjustments are essential to rectify the vulnerabilities which have been uncovered by the acquittal of the accused within the notorious drug trial. By addressing these shortcomings, the hope is to revive religion within the judiciary, strengthen the struggle in opposition to drug trafficking and associated crimes, and make sure that justice is served,” the lawyer stated.

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