28 August 2014

Liberia: Police Commander Gets Five-Year Sentence for Drug Trade

Monrovia — Defendant Perry Dolo and three others accomplices allegedly caught in a drug trade across from Sierra Leone through the border town of Tieni tried and found guilty have been given five-year jail sentence each while two other defendants who were accused of facilitation are sentenced to two years.

Presiding Judge Yussif Kaba of the Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice announced the sentence on Wednesday, three weeks after the five defendants were found guilty of illegal possession of narcotic drug in a unanimous verdict rendered by a nine members trial jury. Before the sentence was announced Wednesday, the Judge had earlier denied a motion filed by the defense lawyer for re-trial, citing that the state did fail to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The state failed to prove its case against the defendants there was no investigative report presented from the crime scene to the court, only medical practitioners determined a drug to be narcotic and not mere drug enforcement officers" said defense lawyer Atty. Johnson in his argument for re-trial. In a counter argument state lawyer Atty. Jerry Garlawolo called on the court not to set the jury verdict aside and grant the defendants re- trial contending that the evidence provided by the state were enough to convict the defendants.

Following the argument and its counter resistance Judge Kaba denied the defense lawyer's motion for re-trial and upheld the guilty verdict of the trial jury on grounds that the evidence provided by the state were enough to convict the defendants and ruled to sentence three of the defendants to five years while another two were also sentenced to two years.

Perry Dolo who served as commander of the presidential escort vehicle was reported to have been arrested at the Tieni check point in Grand Cape Mount County by state security officers while under surveillance for some time with 10 bags of a narcotic drug (marijuana) on November 2013 in the escort vehicle assigned to him from the Executive Mansion.

He was reported to have fled during the arrest of the vehicle, but left behind two other defendants riding with him who were identified as Sekou Rogers a personnel of the Sierra Leone Army and Augustine Saah who were also sentenced with him for five years. Two other defendants who were also sentenced to two years along with Dolo included another Police officer of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) Cyrus Slewion and taxi driver Mohammed Bah.

During the course of the trial Dolo the principal defendant denied the charges in his testimony to the court and jury and added that he had given the assigned escort vehicle to a mechanic for repair of the brake only to be informed by security officers that the vehicle was transporting narcotic drug. His statement was rebutted by DEA chief Investigator Augustine Doe who also told the court that Dolo was given US$450 by defendant Augustine Saah to transport the drugs from Cape Mount to Monrovia.

Doe furthered that Dolo fled the scene when the vehicle was arrested, but later turned in by an elder of Tieni because the joint security had dispatched the message all around the towns and villages that a man linked to drug trafficking was on the run

He told the court and jury that three of the defendants, Augustine Saah, Sekou Rogers were both on the vehicle when it was arrested while the other two Cyrus Slewion and Mohammed Bah friends of Dolo had gone to the check point to release the drug and vehicle when they were arrested and charged with facilitation.

However, all five defendants who were in detention for the last nine months were not present in court on Wednesday when they were sentenced to five and two years in detention but their lawyer Atty. Arthur Johnson excerpted to the ruling an announced an appeal to the Supreme Court in its October 2014 sitting.


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