The NEWS (Monrovia)

23 November 2012

Liberia: Journalist Palena's Arm Robbery Case Drags

It is exactly eight days since hearing into the alleged arm robbery case involving Journalist Darlington Palena and three others were suspended by Judge James Zota for the purpose of requesting funds for jury selection and subsequent sequestration, there appears to be an uncertainty about the resumption of case.

The case came to a standstill following an application by state prosecutors for jury selection and sequestration, a submission which counsels for the defendants interposed no objection.

Lead prosecutor Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Daku Mulbah prayed the court under the gavel of Judge Zota to sequestrate the jurors on the grounds of the Temple of Justice to avoid infiltration and jury tampering.

The submission by the state was seen by defense lawyers as the best for fair play and the dispensation of justice.

Following the application by the prosecution, Judge Zota ruled that the court would have communicated with Acting Chief Justice Francis Kporkor to provide funds and logistics to accommodate jurors during the duration of the trial.

Although the court did not state clearly as to how long the arrangement with the Supreme Court will last, but it has taken about a week now without the issuance of a notice of assignment to begin hearing the case.

It is not known when the trial will resume as there is no information on the provision of funds and logistics from the Supreme Court.

Journalist Palena and three others were indicted in August 2012 on ten counts of Arm Robbery following their arrest by the Liberia National Police. They stand accused for their alleged role in the arm robbery incident which occurred on July 25, 2012 on GSA Road in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

However, the suspects have since pleaded not guilty to the crime thus joining issue with the state.

The Liberian Journalist and the two others who have been in detention for about four months now made their first appearances in court on November 15, 2012.

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