5 December 2012

Liberia: Offoree Diah Denied Bail

Criminal Court "A" at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has denied a motion to grant ex-rebel leader Offere Diaha bail on multiple crimes of murder, rape, mercenarism, illegal possession of firearms and theft of property.

Defendant Diah, an ex-general of the defunct rebels Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) was arrested in Ganta, Nimba County in October this year for allegedly siding with ousted Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, and engaging in cross border rebel activities to destabilize Ivory Coast.

On November 23, 2012, defendant Diah filed the motion, requesting the circuit court to grant him bail on grounds that he is a man with 19 children and properties, among others, thus he could not escape Liberia.

He alleged in a nine-count motion that the magisterial court at the Temple of Justice denied his request for preliminary examination to establish that the government did have sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

But Criminal Court "A" Judge James W. Zotaa ruled that the defendant lost the opportunity to correct the magisterial court on grounds that he (Diah) did not complain the action of the lower court earlier when he was denied his right to preliminary examination.

Besides, Judge Zotaa said the court is not legally convinced that defendant Diah will not escape the Republic of Liberia when granted bail, given the crimes, which include rape, murder, among others. The judge said rape and murder are punishable by life imprisonment, while murder involves a death penalty by hanging under the laws of Liberia.

"Therefore, weighing the punishment against the movant's (Diah's) choice to escape this country when granted bail, this court does not want to risk granting the movant application for bail," said Judge Zotaa.

He recalled that the case records showed that the movant was arrested on October 26, 2012, and that calculating from the date of arrest and detention up to present, the terms limitations granted by statute to the respondent (prosecution) in the case to secure an indictment against the defendant has not expired and hence, denied defendant's motion for bail.

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