New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Journalist Cries Plot

Journalist Darlington Pelenah of King's FM, currently facing trial after being charged with armed robbery, has described his case as a stage-managed plot intended to damage him as a professional Liberian journalist.

Defendant Pelenah made statement Monday while testifying in his own defense with less than five day to climax the 42-day jury sitting in the trial.

State prosecutors are expected to cross examine him today (Thursday) at Criminal Court 'D' where he testified Monday in his own behalf.

Mr. Pelenah, William Randolph and Benjamin Bookie Gbar are on trial for allegedly armed robbing businessman Weeks Thomas at his residence on GSA Road on 25 July 2012.

In his testimony, Pelenah said, as usual, he was at his Royal Communications Office on the 25th of July 2012 reading the evening news bulletin prior to presenting their radio phone-in program.

According to Mr. Pelenah, he returned on the following day to their radio station to prepare the early morning news program: The Sunrise News Magazine.

"As professional journalist, my work is my source of income and criminal acts are not part of my life, least to say armed robbery. So, it beats my imagination to be accused of such act," he said.

Pelenah informed the court that it was on the day of the incidence that one of their neighbors, whom he simply

identified as Iran, called the name of "my fiancee and myself."

He observed that the breathless voice of their female neighbor indicated that she ran from the road around the Joe Bar area.

"The lady requested that I should cut off my machine (generator) because of the lights on ground as the sound of gunfire was coming from the direction of Joe Bar which is about 15 to 20 minutes walk from where we live," Pelenah explained.

He added: "I responded to Iran, 'no Iran, I will not cut off my lights. The reason is that if they are coming our way so that we can be able to identify them.'"

"Iran left and came to the front of the house where she met my fiancée Koto and others where they were discussing; but I was not privileged to have seen them because I was still in my bedroom."

In direct response to a claim by his accuser that he was wearing earrings on the 25th of July 2012, the day of the incidence, Pelenah said: "I have never in any stage of my life, as you can see trial jurors, pierced my ears; least to say that I wear earrings. I do not wear earrings; I have never worn rings and nerve intend to put on earrings."

He admitted knowing his accuser Mr. Weeks Thomas for less than 22 months, but denied transacting business with him normally, contrary to claims that he engaged in frequent business with him.

Penenah denied personally knowing co-defendants William Randolph and Benjamin Bookie Gbar,

but said he interacted with Jacob Gbar, who owned a prosision shop in the community where Mr. Pelenah formerly lived.

Jacob Gbar is senior brother of Benjamin Bookie Gbar.

Meanwhile state prosecutors are expected to cross examine defendant Pelenah today at the Criminal Court 'D' temple of justice.

The state indicted Darlington Pelenah, William Randolph and Benjamin Bookie Gbar last August for allegedly armed robbing businessman Weeks Thomas, at his GSA Road residence on 25 July 2012.

In a 12-count indictment, Weeks said at 10:00 pm on July 25, Edwin Thomas and Chris Kettor picked him up from his Foreign Exchange Bureau in Paynesville Joe Bar Community headed for home.

He said, upon arrival in their yard, the defendants rushed on them with several single barrel guns and shot in the air.

According to the complaint, the defendants grabbed his plastic bag containing US$17,000 from his Green Nissan pickup and ran with it while still firing in the air.

He claimed recognizing two of the defendants including journalist Pelenah. He said Pelenah slapped him in the face during the day of the incidence.

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