12 March 2019

Liberia: 'I'm Crucified Over Ja'neh's Impeachment Trial'

Chief Justice Korkpor: "I have heard and read and continue to hear and read many accusations, innuendoes and speculative views about his role in the process.

-Chief Justice Korkpor breaks silence

For the first time since he began to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja'neh, Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor has broken his silence about the treatment against him.

Breaking his silence at the opening of the March 2019 term of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Korkpor claimed that he had heard and read and continues to hear and read many accusations, and speculative views about his role in the process.

"And, some of these views are coming from people who ought to know better," Korkpor told a gathering of lawyers. "As the matter is being tried, I will, for now, refrain from making any substantive comments regarding my own role. But, I assure that in the end, the truth will emerge."

Justice Korkpor, was among four justices and an Ad Hoc justice that cast a 3-2 vote of the full bench, rejecting Justice Ja'neh's prohibition request against the House of Representatives, before the Senate could commence Ja'neh's impeachment trial.

Chief Justice Korkpor, Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, and Ad Hoc Justice Boima Kontoe were the Justices that voted "no," while Associate Justices Jamesetta Howard Wolokolie and Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, voted yes. It was the vote that opened the door to the ongoing trial of Ja'neh.

Justice Korkpor said he saw his role as the presiding officer to ensure that the trial process is in keeping with due process of law as mandated by the Constitution.

The Chief Justice admitted that it was no secret that the Supreme Court was going through challenging times. "We cannot ignore this," he declared.

He said the ongoing impeachment trial was unprecedented in the history of the country. "To the best of my recollection, no impeachment proceedings in our nation have taken on the form of a full-blown trial before the Senate," he confessed.

"My role as the presiding officer was mandated by the Constitution," he stressed. Justice Korkpor quoted Article 43 of the Constitution, which he said, provides that "When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside."

According to Justice Korkpor, the Liberian Senate tries the proceedings and he is the sole judge whether or not the justice has committed an impeachable offense."We have no doubt that the honorable men and women of the Senate will, at the end of the trial, make a fair and just determination based on the findings," the Chief Justice emphasized.

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