By Edwin G. Wandah
Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice yesterday dismissed three of the Defense Counsel witnesses in the Mercenary Trial.
The court said its decision was predicated upon the fact that all of their witnesses; observed and listened to testimonies given by both witnesses in the ongoing Mercenary trial by the witness of the Liberian Government and that of the Defense Counsel. According to Criminal Court “D” Judge, Yousif Kabbah, a candidate can only be disqualified if he or she did listen to testimonies given by any of the witnesses in an ongoing trial and not just attending part of the hearing.
During yesterday’s hearing, the Government of Liberia produced in court another witness, Isaac Kelbo, a Senior Deputy Chief of Crimes Investigator at the Liberia National Police and has worked for more than 18 years.
According to Kelbo, before taking the witness stand he obtained several certificates and diplomas in Crimes Investigation Courses in Egypt, Botswana, the Kofi Anna Institute in Ghana and the United States of America from 1999- 2013 respectively in Model Law.
He said several cases of Mercenarism coupled with other crimes were embedded in the investigation alongside with other investigators of his team, and according to him; findings and statements recorded from all of the accused, some of whom could write; while those that could not write affixed their finger thumbs on the document were also endorsed by their legal counselors in persons of Atty. Arthur Johnson and Amos Kollie.
In some of the witness’ testimonies, he established that those he and his team investigated found out that the alleged perpetrators did not cross over to Liberia with weapons. He further said that he did not visit the crime scene because according to him, since indeed the alleged crime scene was a battle ground, he could not have risked the lives of him and his investigative team members.
Witness Kelbe said, accused Isaac Cheapo, alias Bob Millay informed police investigation that while in the Ivory Coast, he and 95 Liberians including Prince Barclay were taken to one Solo, a Liberian who also took them to one Ivorian in Guiglo called Glayee D’Lafore and they were promised an amount of CFA700,000 if they agreed to fight for former Ivorian President Lauran Gbagbo but also under one condition, only if their relatives that were detained and put in jail in other parts of Ivory Coast were released from jail.
According to him, Prince Barclay explained that his intension to survive in Grand Gedeh was dashed down. Witness Kelbe said Prince told police investigation that he accepted to fight because life in Grand Gedeh was unbearable and according to him, Prince also encouraged another Mohammed Massaquoi who joined him to fight for cash.
But during the cross examination process, Defense Counsel Lawyers’ interrogation to the witness was answered straight to the point. Asking, Defense Lawyer, Atty. Arthur Johnson asked if the witness who is also one of his students at the AME University studying Criminal Justice ever visited the crime scene, a question which the state witness said no; and clarified that he could not risk their lives at the crime scene.
Another question posed from the Defense Counsel was if the document which witness Kelbe said Defense Counsel endorsed carried his signature, and presented a photo copy of the document, specifically, the statement Isaac Cheapo signed, also on that; witness could answer in the affirmative because according to him, the photocopy omitted one of the signatures especially, Atty. Arthur Johnson’s signature.
Meanwhile, the court took a five-minute recess to give the Prosecution and Defense time to hang their heads. After the five minutes recess break, Prosecution were seen entering the court room with weapons they also claimed were evidence to prosecute the case, but before taking stand, the third witness Alfred T. Quire, Defense Counsel immediately raised objection to the witness on grounds he has been following the entire trial, and that he cannot be used by state prosecutors to testify in the case he has been attending.
But after Defense Counsel’s objection, Prosecution rejected to Defense claims and said that if in any case Defense had problem with any witness, Defense should produce evidence to prove their case. Henceforth, Judge Yousiff Kabah explained that under the law, he does not disqualify a witness if he or she has listened to any of the witnesses’ testimonies in court and cannot disqualify a witness because he attended court hearing.
Judge Yousiff Kabah said the witness Alfred T. Quire was qualified but should return to his seat until Defense produces more evidences to prove their case. Meanwhile, Atty. Johnson said that the Defense Counsel has more evidence against the witness Alfred T. Quire.
He however named two of his colleagues Atty. Swahilo Sesay and Cllr. Dempster Brown who he said visibly saw the witness in court.
Taking the witness stand, Atty. Swahilo Sesay told the court that on the first day of the trial, he saw Second State Witness Alfred in court and personally engaged him, asking him while he was in court or if he was there testify in court again.
According to him, Witness Quire told him that he went to the court to forfeit his class assignment that one of their instructors gave them. Swahilo further said that other classmates of the Criminal Justice class were on the scene when the two of them were conversing while others came and met them in the conversation.
But the second witness, Cllr. Dempster Brown and two others; a male student of the AME University and a police officer were all denied on grounds that they attended yesterday and other hearings and therefore, could not prove the case.
Meanwhile, the court has qualified the third State Witness, Alfred T. Quire, while the court adjoined for Friday, July 19, 2013 at 10:a.m.