23 October 2017

Liberia: Solicitor General Applauds Supreme Court for Upholding Verdict in Rape Case

Monrovia — Despite the Liberian Senate making rape bailable, the Solicitor General (SG) of Liberia has said that the Ministry of Justice remains unwavering in prosecuting all rape and sexual exploitation cases.

SG Betty Lamin-Blamo said the Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) unit within the Ministry is fully ready to tackle such cases. She disclosed that the only court in the country to prosecute sexual abuse cases is also impeding the prosecution of rape cases.

Cllr. Blamo further stated that the unit is working with stakeholders including the Gender, Children and Social Protection Ministry and AFELL to plead with the Members of the 54th Legislature specifically the House of Representatives to not concur with the Senate's amendment of the rape law.

The statement of Cllr. Betty followed the Supreme Court's recent confirmation of the guilty verdict of a 20-year-old man, who raped a 10-year-old girl in 2011.

James Marfalon was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years by the Criminal Court "'E." Following an appeal, which was filed to the Supreme Court, the sentence was extended to 25 years.

The nation's highest court agreed that Marfalon committed the act based on the facts and supporting evidence adduced during the trial of the case.

"We hereby affirm and confirm the final judgment of the trial court but with the modification that the sentence of ten (10) years imprisonment imposed is increased to 25 years, commencing as the date of his confinement, with the possibility of parole after 11 years of imprisonment," the Court said

The victim testified that on a Friday, February 18, 2011, that she, her brother and the defendant (Marfalon) were watching movies when her brother had to leave because he had been called by his another friend, leaving she and the defendant in the room.

The victim says while watching movies the generator went off and the defendant said he was going to put it back on but it did not come on.

"I tried leaving because the place was dark but when I tried coming out, he held my mouth and carried me inside and started dong rude-rude (sex) thing to me," the little girl said.

In a statement, which her brother confirmed, it added that he was prevented from re-entering the room, "Because he told me that my sister had left".

The victim's step father also testified that he and his wife were washing their children's clothes when his wife saw blood stains on the victim's trousers.

"My wife noticed blood on the trousers of our daughter, and she called my attention, saying that she didn't know our daughter had started menstruating," the girl's father said.

He added that his wife and her sister took the victim to a local clinic where she explained that she had been abused by the defendant.

"The midwife told us that our daughter was menstruating but she was tampered with."

Defendant Marfalon taking the stand said he was a notorious criminal in the community and that he had been incarcerated on several occasions for the commission of theft and criminal mischief.

But didn't commit the crime of rape as was alleged in the indictment.

The court record shows that the defendant lied when he testified that he rented his generator to a friend a night before the incident.

A testimony, which was rebutted by the friend he named that the generator was rented to.

The court in its opinion said the court considers the child's age and maturity, nature and duration of the abuse, relationship of the child to the offender, the coherence of the statement by the victim and others.

At the time of the incident the defendant was 10 and is now 16 or 17 years.

The trial judge committed no error in overruling the defendant's question regarding the inclusion of additional witness's statements.

"We hold that the appellant (Marfalon) failure to prove his alibi in the face of the state incriminating evidence placing him at the scene and the time of the rape, said failure nullifies, dissolves and abolished all presumptions of innocence in his favor and establishes a string inference of his guilt for the commission of the heinous crime of rape."

Liberia

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