11 July 2012

Liberia: Jurors Collect U.S.$700 Each

Jury Foreman Orenah Cummings confessed before Criminal Court "C" Judge Yussif D. Kaba Tuesday that several members of the panel of jury allegedly received a token of US$700 each from a party in a case at bar.

Judge Kaba said "she [juror Cummings] informed the court that she refused to go on the site, considering the repeated advice of this court and that it is her information that several members of the panel did visit the site, and that each of those members were rewarded or given a token of seven Hundred United States Dollars."

The court was about to begin prosecuting Reverend Matthew T. Sakeuh and his wife Mrs. Plenseh Sakeuh of the Africa Indigenous Evangelical Mission (AIEM) in Liberia for allegedly duping a US based group, ABC International of One Million United States Dollars ($1,000,000.00) when the alleged bribery scam backfired.

But the court has however granted a separate trial for Reverend Sakeuh because his wife is said to be out of the country.

According to the indictment, between 2006 and 2009, Reverend Sakeuh and his wife were hired to purchase a total of 72.6 acres of land to establish the ABC Children Aid Liberia as a branch of the ABC International, with a monthly salary of US$2,700.00.

The indictment said defendant Sakeuh and his wife failed to implement the project, presenting themselves as people of God, and misapplied the money.

Notwithstanding, Judge Kaba's investigation gathered the jury bribery scam and subsequently ordered jurors Orenah Cummings and co-suspect Anthony Weah incarcerated after making the confession that she (Cummings) purposely went to provide additional jury service because a party interested in the case had contacted her [through] another jury member, requesting them to visit the disputed site.

The jurors however refused to directly state, who planted them in the case and offered the cash. The court was investigating juror Cummings for multiple jury service after defense lawyers requested the court to disqualify her because she had earlier served at the Criminal Court "B" in November 2011 before coming at Court "C," against the jury law.

Judge Kaba said suspect Anthony Weah admitted contacting Cummings after a friend had called him to visit the site and asked him (Anthony) whether juror Cummings was also contacted.

Judge Kaba recalled that one of the major situations that exist in Liberia's justice system is confidence in the judiciary, but the jury system was posing the greatest problem.

He then ruledm, "...In this connection and because of the law by Juror Cummings and juror Anthony Weah, the said two jurors are to remain incarcerated until otherwise ordered."

Meanwhile, the court has ordered an investigation to determine whether or not other members of the panel violated their oath to serve independently and impartially in trials.

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