9 March 2017

Liberia: Sable Mining Corruption Case - Defense Waives Jury Trial

Monrovia — The eight defendants in the Sable Mining bribery case at Criminal Court "C" ongoing at the Temple of Justice have agreed to go to trial without jury, following a plea of not guilty.

"At this stage, one of counsels for co-defendant Alex Tyler with consultation in exercise of his right provided for under the law hereby waived jury trial and submit," said Tyler's counsel, while lawyers for the other defendants made similar pronouncement.

Following the pronouncement from the defense lawyers, Judge Yarmie Gbeisay, said it is the right of the defendants to waive a trial by jury.

"Trial by jury, being the right of the defendants under Article 21 (h) of our Constitution and the statute and the defendants speaking through their respective counsels having consciously waived jury trial.

This court is left with no alternative but to reluctantly grant the defendants' resistance," said Judge Gbeisay as he asked the empaneled jury to retire from the courtroom.

With the court accepting a non-jury trial, that means that Judge Gbeisay will now preside over a bench trial, serving as judge and jury- defacto.

At Thursday's hearing of the case state lawyers requested the court to reschedule the case for today March 10, indicating that they did not advise their witnesses to come to court because they thought there could be jury selection which could have taken a number of days.

Defense lawyers objected to the prosecution's request, saying that in every criminal prosecution the defendant is entitled to speedy and expeditious trial.

But Judge Gbeisay in his ruling on the matter accepted the submission from the prosecution, requesting time in order to put its first witness on the stand.

"Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the prosecution submission for continuance being sound in both law and logic same is hereby granted and counsels resistance are hereby denied and the hearing of this case is hereby continued to Friday morning same being the 10th day of March 2017 and it is hereby so ordered."

The eight defendants in the case are standing trial for bribery, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, facilitation and solicitation.

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