11 December 2012

Liberia: Journalist Pelenah Faces Assault Claims

Prosecutors' first witness in the ongoing armed robbery trial involving local journalist Pelenah, Edwin Thomas Monday identified defendant Darlington Pelenah as the alleged perpetrator who shot him (Edwin) behind his head during a purported armed robbery incident on July 25 this year, at the GSA Road Community.

But the witness told the Criminal Court "D" Monday that following his treatment at the Catholic Hospital, his doctor (unidentified) did not tell him that bullet had entered his head, only quoting the doctor to have said "My son thank God you are still living; you should go to church."

Journalist Pelenah, co-defendants Benjamin Bookie Gbar and William P. Randolph were arrested on July 26 and 29, 2012, by the police over claims of armed robbing victims Weeks Thomas, Edwin Thomas and Chris Kettor at the GSA Road Community. The accused were said to have allegedly make away with US$17,000 and shooting the witness' head during the incident.

Witness Edwin said besides defendant Pelenah, he did not recognize the rest of the accomplices on the crime scene, but recalled that defendant Pelenah slapped him in the face and stepped behind his head until blood pulled out of his nose.

"He left me and went to Weeks [where the car was] and fired into the air; he pointed gun at my boss' [Weeks Thomas'] head and commanded him to give the money," said Edwin Thomas.

He alleged that as Pelenah stood closed to him (Edwin) beside the car and gave commands, the car lights reflected on him (Pelenah) thus leading him to be identified.

After taking the US$17,000 from the car, the witness claimed that defendant Pelenah further demanded the car keys and allegedly put his (Pelenah's) hand in Weeks' pocket and took the car keys off.

While leaving the crime scene, Edwin claimed that defendant Pelenah fired at the back of his (Edwin's) head; on grounds that he recognized the defendant.

"They were many that night; but I recognized Pelenah. I was shot at the back of my head... The next thing I saw myself at the hospital [Catholic Hospital] lying in bed," said witness Edwin.

Following his narratives, Edwin identified photos said to be taken at the hospital and presented by prosecutors in court Monday showing banish on his head. Witness Edwin said he has known defendant Pelenah for years prior to the alleged armed robbery incident on July 25, 2012.

The state witness recalled that at 10 pm on the day of the incident, defendant Pelenah allegedly appeared at his exchange booth to convert US$10.00 to Liberian Dollars while in the process of packing to go home.

He recalled that defendant Pelenah dressed in jeans jacket, white cap, and boots when he entered the exchange shop for transaction that night. He said immediately, strange people entered the shop with US$20.00 to convert it to LD, but were however denied.

Edwin said he, Weeks Thomas and Chris Kettor packed and went home at the GSA Road Community where the defendants allegedly pursued them and executed the armed robbery mission.

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