7 January 2013

Liberia: At Gbarnga Circuit Court - Three Murder Cases Reported in 42 Days

The County Attorney of Bong County has disclosed that murder, rape and aggravated assault are the three dominant cases reported at the Gbarnga Circuit Court in the November term of court. In a chat with this paper recently at the Gbarnga Circuit Court, Attorney Cornelius Flomo Wanneh, disclosed that three murder cases were reported within the past 42 days.

Of these three, Atty. Warner further disclosed that two were won by the Government of Liberia (GoL) and the perpetrators sentenced to life imprisonment. The other case, which was also witnessed by this writer, was sent to the next term of court, which begins next month due to a hung verdict at the end of the trial.

A hung Verdict is the failure of the state to get the required guilty verdict of the 12 jurors in a case. Accordingly, the state must obtain 5/6 or 10/12 of the jurors' ruling to win a case, but that was not the situation in this case. In this third murder case, 8 jurors handed down guilty verdict while the other 4 came down with a non-guilty verdict, hence, making the ruling a hung verdict.

But despite this setback to the state in the last murder case, Atty. Warner holds the view that the justice system has overwhelmingly improved in the county. According to him, the GoL through the Ministry of Justice has been able to win 19 of the last 25 cases since he became County Attorney.

"This is not just a boost for me, but for the Ministry of Justice which I represent here," said Atty. Wanneh. He pointed out that relationship between the ministry and the joint security forces has improved in recent times. He said there has been good information sharing between the court on one hand and the Liberia National Police (LNP), Immigration and other security apparatus including the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on the other hand.

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