The New Dawn (Monrovia)

31 January 2013

Liberia: Cadets Families Upset About Trial

The family members of four dead cadets of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), on Wednesday, January 30, 201, walked out of the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice, angrily expressing dissatisfaction over procedures involved in hearing their case.

The Lawyer representing the deceased families, Counselor T. Negbalee Warner, however, said they were very upset "because they are all not quite familiar with the legal process."

Both parties had appeared before the Civil Law Court on Wednesday for the disposition of law issues wherein Cllr. Warner noted that the defense could have argued, in less than five minutes, that the case contained mixed-questions of law and facts, and could have requested the judge to rule the matter to trial.

Cllr. Warner told journalists outside the court that when the motion for summary judgment was heard, it was based on law issues that the court needed to recognize that the four cadets died in the presence and under the supervision of the trainers assigned by the Liberia Maritime Authority.

Cllr. Warner contended that the fact that the cadets died while training under the supervision of LMA-appointed trainers, it meant that they died under the supervision of Maritime.

"Two, that Maritime admitted that the people died 9:00 which, according to their own admission, was also the period of training," said Cllr. Warner.

But the Court, however, said the issues also needed to be tried because the defendant (Maritime) itself sought evidence in these matters.

"So, they [LMA] brought to the court's attention the fact that one hearing was not heard before the judge ruled this case to trial, and that point was what they called disposition of law issues; that basically means that before you go to trial and present evidence, you need to dispose of all legal questions," Cllr. Warner told the press.

Though the court agreed with Maritime that it will sent all of the matters to trial, Cllr. Warner, however, contended that the case could have been decided on law issues- "to say Maritime if you admitted that these people were with the trainers you appointed in the water; that they died during your training time, then there's no argument."

But the court granted lawyers representing the LMA, request for jury trial, apparently to afford them opportunity to submit listing of witnesses, among others.

"We from the [bereaved] family side agree that those requirements are in keeping with laws, we don't have to be in hurry, and we will satisfy them," Cllr. Warner said.

The case is expected to be heard on Thursday at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia.

The deceased, including Eddie Wilson, (29); George K. Reede, (30); Patrick M. Asumana, (26); and Henry D. Bryant, (39) got drowned on September 28, 2012 while reportedly undergoing training.

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