18 June 2014

Liberia: Mercenaries Sentenced for Life

... As Judge Affirmed Guilty Verdict

The five-month-long mercenary trial of 13 persons has finally ended with Judge Emery S. Paye affirming the unanimous guilty verdict of the six-member empanelled jury.

Judge Paye told the court that giving the circumstances and facts, coupled with evidence adduced at the trial, the defendants are sentenced for the rest of their life.

The final judgment comes after Judge Paye denied the defendants' motion for new trial.

Summarizing the entire case, Judge Paye started with the testimony of prosecution's first witness, Pascal Kollie, who told the court that he was taken to Garleo Town in Grand Gedeh County by one Charlie Brooks to mine gold.

Judge Paye told the court that witness Kollie, a Guinean Kpelle, testified that while in Garleo Town, General Nyezee Barway allegedly began transporting weapons as well as recruiting fighters to go and fight in Ivory Coast on behalf of deposed President Laurent Gbagbo.

The presiding Judge informed the court that witness Kollie explained that as the men increased in numbers, Kissi Brooks, who was said to have been Barway's host asked him to carry his men in the forest.

Judge Paye said witness Kollie testified how Kai Cole, one of the alleged fighters used Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) in an ambush and blasted the UN vehicle, leaving seven persons dead.

The Judge noted that witness Kollie's testimony corroborated with prosecution's second witness, Baryee Gaye, a resident of Grand Gedeh County.

Explaining the side of the defense, Judge Paye told the court that the witnesses denied their involvement in the Ivorian crisis, when they took the stand in their own behalf.

For instance, he said the defense witnesses denied making statements at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP during investigation.

Judge Paye emphasized that the defense team made a major 'blunder' by asking an Ivorian witness to identify Morris Cole, one of the defendants, whom he claimed to have investigated in Liberia.

He said the man walked and pointed at defendant Cole in the dock.

However, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe took exception to the ruling and announced an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia, sitting in its October, 2014 Term of Court.

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