13 Liberians get life imprisonment

Convicts being led back to jail by security officers

Convicts being led back to jail by security officers

A Liberian criminal court on Tuesday affirmed trial jurors’ unanimous guilty verdict against 13 Liberians with a life imprisonment at the Monrovia Central Prison after a defense lawyers’ motion for a new trial was denied.

Judge Emery S. Paye affirmed the verdict saying “evidence adduced in court by state lawyers were sufficient to convict the remaining 13 defendants for subversive activities in Cote d’Ivore.”

Judge Paye ruled that the trial jurors’ unanimous guilty was in no way contrary to the weight of the evidence adduced in court by state prosecutors in order to convict the defendants.

He said the 11 regular witnesses that provided evidence for state  lawyers, including the rebutter witnesses’ testimonies, established the defendants’ involvement in cross border attacks in the neighboring West African country.

He blamed defense lawyers for not properly representing the defendants, adding that they were unbalanced on several occasions during the trial.

He maintained that the jurors’ unanimous guilty verdict linked all 13 defendants in keeping with law.

“Since the crime is first degree felony which warrants death sentence, the defendants will get life imprisonment as provided by law,” he stressed.

Two of the convicts being led back to jail

Two of the convicts being led back to jail

The convicts were present in court when the judge announced his final judgment and responded by cheering the judge and government saying, “you people are satisfy now and let us suffer.”

The convicts  were indicted  in 2011 and  2012 on multiple charges ranging from mercenarism to murder, rape, arson and theft of property.

Defense lawyers, led by lawyer Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, took exception to the final judgment by announcing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Prior to his final judgment Judge Emery Paye denied a 16-count motion by defense lawyers seeking to overturn the jurors’ guilty verdict.

Defense lawyers said the trial jury ignored the facts that the material evidence given in the case was based on hearsay, particularly the evidence by Thomas Gladior, whose statement was the source of the information that led to the arrests and indictment of the defendants.

They added that evidence produced in the case did not prove the indictment as to the existence of training camps in Liberia, particularly in the Thia forest, and the recruitment of Liberian in towns in Grand Gedeh for subversive activities in Cote d’Ivore.

They noted what they termed as a misbehavior on the part of the legal consultant of the Ministry of Justice Cllr.Theophilus C. Gould who said in court that there would be a war between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire  if the defendats are set free.

They noted that the jurors not wanting to be responsible for war between Liberia and Ivory Coast brought down a verdict the state wanted.

In response, state lawyers argued that count one of the defense lawyers’ motion constituted a total distortion of the facts as contained in the records of the court.

They said that all 11 regular witnesses, included rebutters, implicated the defendants in the commission of crimes in Cote d’Ivore.

-Story & Photo Peter N. Toby

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