New Democrat (Monrovia)

24 January 2013

Liberia: Pakistani Trafficker Sentenced One Year

The resident Judge of the second judicial circuit court in Grand Bassa County has sentenced a Pakistani national to one-year imprisonment for his involvement in human trafficking.

The convict Mohammed Ilyas along with an Indian national identified as Joshua Samuel were arrested by the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for allegedly trafficking a dozen of Pakistanis and Indian national in the country last year.

A release from the Ministry of Justice quotes document said Mohammed Ilyas trafficked five

persons while Indian national Samuel trafficked seven others who are all Indians.

The two suspects are doing business in Liberia.

The release said during the trial in Buchanan the Pakistani national who is the defendant told the court that he brought the victims in Liberia not for human trafficking but rather to work for him, the release said.

But the state, in presenting their case to the jury and the court, produced at least four of the five victims as state witnesses who testified that they were never told by the defendant that they were coming to Liberia to work for him but rather to have their own will.

The trial jury at the end of the trial brought down a unanimous guilty verdict against the defendant.

The judge said after viewing the evidence, he approval the jury's verdict and sentenced the defendant to a year of imprisonment.

The defense lawyer took exception to the judge's ruling and announced an appeal to the Supreme Court in its March sitting.

Meanwhile state prosecutors have taken an exception to the sentencing on grounds that the offence is a second degree felony and the sentence for such crime should be three years instead of one year.

Speaking to reporters, the release quoted Solicitor General Cllr Winkins Wrights as saying that the state will start the prosecution of the Indian national during the February term of court in Monrovia.

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