13 July 2012

Liberia: Corrupt Jurors Risk

More jurors including co-defendant, Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh, at the Criminal Court "C" risk imprisonment after Judge Yussif D. Kaba reserved ruling in an alleged U$700 bribery scam against jurors set to hear a U$1 million theft of property case at the Temple of Justice here.

Prosecutors led by Cllr. Theophilus Gould, president of the Liberia Bar Association, urged Judge Kaba to penalize all jurors linked with the alleged bribery scam, in accordance the laws governing jury practice.

"The Judiciary System has been accused on several occasions and these are people that are damaging our justice system. They need to be punished in order to save the image of the court. You know the best action to take, but something needs to be done," Cllr. Gould told Criminal Court "C" Judge Kaba.

He argued that the admission by juror Anthony Weah and jury foreman Orenah Cummings and other jurors that Mr. Cooper Passawe and Mr. Dave Wortuah contacted them through co-defendant Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh to gather at his place ahead of the trial creates more questions than answers.

Cllr. Gould insisted that the court must take serious action against the jurors found guilty of the bribery scam, adding: "Such action will help significantly to save the justice system from public disrepute".

But defense lawyer, Cllr. Cooper Kruah differed with lead prosecution lawyer Gould, and suggested removal of the jurors involved in the alleged bribery scam as the "best way forward" in keeping with the law governing the jury system in the country.

"Your honor, while it is true that court will make the best decision in this matter and prosecutors need to proceed with this case, the defendants need their day in court in keeping with law," he pointed out.

Jury Anthony Weah and foreman Orenah Cummings were accused this week of receiving U$700 bribe each and remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison in a US1 million case at the Criminal Court "C".

Jurors Cooper Passewe and Dave Wortuah, who ware at large Wednesday, appeared in court Thursday and admitted to the alleged U$700 bribery scam.

Meanwhile, Judge Kaba has ordered the sheriff at Criminal Court "C" to ensure that all jurors, including those detained in connection with the bribery scam, to appear in court today for his final ruling.

This is the second time Criminal Court "C" jurors have been involved in bribery scandals in return for verdict to the detriment of the judicial system.

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