11 March 2013

Liberia: Ex-Police Chief 'S Conviction Upheld

Speculations that former police director Beatrice Munah Sieh Brown and four others were not unanimously convicted of the theft of US$199,000 despite media reports were laid to rest Friday afternoon when the presiding judge reaffirmed the unanimous jury verdict against the accused.

After a protracted investigation, Judge of Criminal Court 'C' Yussif Kaba reaffirmed the jurors' unanimous guilty verdict against ex-police inspector general Beatrice Munah Sieh Brown and four others for the theft of U$$199,000 after the defence lawyers' claim of jury tampering was denied.

Jurors last Thursday handed down a unanimous guilty verdict against the accused but defence lawyers rejected the verdict, raising the jurors' alleged misconduct and prompting an investigation.

The investigation was conducted with both parties given the opportunity to argue their points.

Defence lawyer Atty. Arthur Johnson invoked legal citations to back his arguments. He said four destroyed forms were discovered beyond recognition. From the destroyed forms, he said it was difficult to establish whether his clients were found guilty or not.

He argued that the jurors' actions were suspicious and created room for doubt and criminality.

The defence lawyer maintained that the act of the jurors gave reasons that they were tampered with.

He accused the jurors of making calls before and after the trial and requested the court to cite the managements of Lonestar Cell and Cellcom to produce the callers' log and verify their claims.

In a counter argument, Atty. Abraham Sillah said while it was true that the destroyed forms were difficult to put together, the word guilty was recognized.

He said the jurors' action did not amount to tampering as claimed by the defence lawyer.

The lawyer from the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission argued that the defence submission were all words of lies. He observed that those words were all speculations and warned the court not to deal with suspicious.

In his ruling, Judge Yussif Kaba said it was difficult to put the pieces of destroyed forms together.

He informed the parties that four verdict forms were destroyed, adding that one of them carried the wording guilty and this was recognized by all.

The Criminal Court 'C' presiding Judge who provided several legal citations before reaffirming the jurors' verdict against the five defendants said that two counts were needed for overturning the jurors' decision.

He said before the verdict was given from the jurors, the Judge would stop the proceeding and conduct an investigation.

After the verdict, he said the law provides a motion for new trial in favour of the defendants. "It is in this motion that the issue of jurors' misconducts can be raised," he said.

Based on these counts the Judge denied the defence lawyers' claim of juror misconducts and reaffirmed the unanimous guilty verdict against the accused.

Meanwhile, it is not clear whether the presiding judge will shortly go ahead and make his final judgement confirming the jury's verdict following reports that the defence lawyers have filed a motion seeking a new trial.

Atty. Arthur Johnson informed the New Democrat last Saturday that

they have filed a seven-count motion for new trial at the Criminal Court 'C.' The latest development was confirmed by court officials and LACC lawyer Atty. Abraham Sillah.

The grand jurors of Montserrado County indicted co-defendant Beatrice Munah Sieh along with Harria Mannah Dunn, Prince O.A Akinremi, Kaymah N. Zeon and Nebo Garlo on four counts of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy.

According to the indictment Co-defendant Brown as head of the Liberia National Police converted the amount of U$199,000 under various schemes which was intended to urgently buy uniforms for the police Emergency Response Unit (ERU).

It also said that Madam Brown allegedly committed the act with the help of Harria Mannah Dunn, Prince O.A Akinremi, Kaymah N. Zeon and Nebo Garlo.

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