The New Dawn (Monrovia)

31 January 2013

Liberia: Ivorian Mercenaries Run to High Court

Eight Ivorian mercenaries here, refusing extradition to Cote d'Ivoire for prosecution on multiple charges over alleged cross border rebel activities in their home country are now before Criminal Circuit Court "A", seeking a reversal of Monrovia City Court Magistrate Nelson B. Chinneh's ruling in which the judge denied their "motion to dismiss" prosecutors' petition for extradition.

Recently, the magisterial court at the Temple of Justice denied a motion to dismiss prosecution's petition to extradite defendants Komandee Mohegnan Vakery, Nemlin Rerik Anbtiube, Djikezon Guei, Martin Nioule, Frank Oilvier and Nioule Junior to Ivory Country on the request of that country to face trial.

Arguments contained in the petition for summary proceedings filed before the Criminal Court "A" to have Magistrate Chinneh appear this morning revealed that lawyers representing the Liberian Government had earlier drew up an indictment against the defendants at Court "A" while the magistrate was attempting to conduct a preliminary examination in the case "based on Court 'A'Judge James W. Zotaa's order."

"Petitioners say that the indictment along with the writ of arrest was served on the defendants, while in detention at the Monrovia Central Prison," the counsels said.

As a result of the alleged indictment drawn against the defendants, the counsels contended that the magisterial court lost jurisdiction over the defendants.

Further, the defense lawyers informed the high court that while the defendants were already before the First Circuit Courts - A, B, C, D, and E, lawyers for the Liberian Government "again caused the issuance of a writ of arrest against the defendants for extradition" based on the Ivorian Government's request.

But the defense team deemed as "contemptuous", should the magistrate grant a petition for extradition, which would lead to removing the defendants from the jurisdiction of the first judicial circuit courts and transferring them to Ivory Coast.

The defense argued that only the first judicial circuits at the stage of the case can make decision, excuse or relinquish jurisdiction over the mercenaries and the magisterial court.

"Legal reasons dictate that when reasons for which an extradition is made are the same reasons that a higher court has established jurisdiction over them, then the lower court should yield to the jurisdiction of the higher court," the defense argued.

Additionally, the defense say the magistrate disregarded the law and rule governing magisterial courts, which are courts of non- records and proceeded by a wrongful rule.

They are however requesting the Criminal Court "A" to refuse and dismiss Magistrate Chinneh's jurisdiction in the extradition proceedings, arguing that hearing the petition for extradition at the magisterial court would amount to gross insubordination to the higher court, and criminal contempt since the defendants are fully indicted by the first judicial circuit court.

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