24 January 2013

Liberia: Pakistani National Sentenced to Jail for Human Trafficking, But....

The Resident Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County has sentenced a Pakistani national to one- year imprisonment for Human Trafficking. Judge Benedict Holt sentenced Mohammed IIyas after trial jury brought down unanimous guilty verdict against him.

It can be recalled that last year, the convict, Mohammed Ilyas, along with an Indian National identified as Joshua Samuel, were arrested and investigated by officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for allegedly trafficking a dozen of Pakistani and Indian nationals to the country.

According to court document, convict Ilyas trafficked five of the dozen of victims, while suspect Samuel, trafficked the others (seven persons) who are all Indian Nationals. Both IIyas and Samuel are doing business in Liberia. During the trial in Buchanan, convict IIyas told the court that he brought the victims to work for him, but not for human trafficking.

But the state in presenting their case to the jury and the court produced at least four of the five victims as state witnesses. The state witnesses told the court that convict IIyas never told them that they were coming to Liberia to work. After viewing the state evidence, judge Holt approved the jury unanimous verdict and sentenced the defendant to a year imprisonment.

However, the defense lawyer took exception to the judge's ruling and subsequently announced an appeal to the Supreme Court in its March sitting. On the other hand, state prosecutors rejected the one- year sentence on grounds that the offence is a second degree felony and the sentence for such crime should be three years instead of one year.

Meanwhile, Liberia's Solicitor General, Cllr Winkins Wrights, said the state will start the prosecution of the Indian national this coming February term of court in Monrovia.

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