22 February 2011

Liberia: Juror Admits Taking Bribe in Chris Toe Libel Suit

Allegation of jurors taking bribe has started coming to light in a case involving former Agriculture Minister, Dr. Chris Toe's US$2 million Libel Suit filed against the management of FrontPage Africa Newspaper.

Dr. Toe filed a law suit against the paper for what he called publishing erroneous information that he (Chris Toe) absconded with millions of dollars during his tenure as Minister of Agriculture.

This allegation comes following series of complaints and accusations that jurors usually take bribe to decide cases in favor of the person who gives the bribe, a situation, which is believed many persons have fallen victim because of their financial inability to have access to jurors.

One of the fifteen jurors selected to serve on the panel in the case between Chris Toe and FrontPage Africa; Genevieve Mahteh has revealed that she received US$50 from one of her colleagues, Sarah Flomo, serving on the panel.

In her affidavit of confirmation of jury tempering made before the Justice of the Peace for Montserrado County, Madam Mahteh cited "That on the 7th day of February, A.D. 2011, same being on Monday and while sitting in court awaiting the continuation of the trial, juror Sarah Flomo approached me and handed to me, an envelope containing therein United States Dollars fifty (US$50.00); that when I inquired from her as to the person who gave her the money that she has given me, juror Sarah Flomo informed me that it was the Plaintiff (Chris Toe )."

Based on the revelation made by Madam Mahteh, Counsels for the defendants on Monday filed a motion of new trial into the libel case in which the FrontPage Africa was found guilty by the jurors who have been alleged to have taken bribe.

The defense in their six counts motion for new trial stated that the unanimous verdict of the empanelled jury is contrary to the weight of evidence adduced at the trial. The defense told the court to take into consideration the issue of jury tempering, something which they said played on the neutrality of the jurors, thereby making them to give a verdict that is partial and influenced by inducement on the part of the plaintiff (Dr. Chris Toe).

But lawyers representing Dr. Chris Toe countered the defense's motion saying there is no evidence of jury tempering as claimed by the defense. They furthered that the jury's verdict was consistent with evidences that were adduced in court during the trial.

But Judge Yussif Kabah of the Civil Law Court of Liberia has cited the two individuals, Genevieve Mahteh and Sarah Flomo to first investigate the issue of jury tempering before addressing the motion for new trial. The two jurors are expected in court today to explain their alleged involvement in the bribery case.

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