In Mercenary Trial: Judge To Rule On Acquittal Motion Today

The presiding judge of Criminal Court “D”, Judge Yussif Kaba will today give the court’s ruling in arguments pro et con regarding a motion to have eight if not all 18 defendants purged off the charge of mercenarism levied against them by the government of Liberia.

The defense team led by former Solicitor General Tiawon Gongloe in an argument in favor of their four-count motion for acquittal filed in the middle of the trial proceeding of 18 men accused of the commission of the crime of carrying out mercenarism told the court that there is absolutely no law on the books under Liberia’s jurisdiction regarding such crime.

The argument led by Cllr. Gongloe yesterday informed the court and State that in fact there is no evidence throughout the testimonies provided by the prosecution’s own witness that indeed any of the defendants named were acting in favor or against the State.

The defense who relied on Article 21(a) of the Liberian Constitution argued that nobody is allowed to take it upon themselves to make that which is not a law to become a law adding that the simple truth is that all citizens of Liberia are to behave properly at all times but that there is no law creating the crime for which the defendants now stand trial.

Their argument further stated that some defendants were never mentioned during the testimonies while some were even exonerated during the testimonies of the State’s witnesses. The defense prayed the court to drop the charges against those defendants especially those to whom government has no evidence against in the matter.

The prosecution’s argument is that the act is concerted, was planned and affected together therefore all 18 defendants must bear the penalty together. Leading the State argument, the Solicitor General, Betty Lamin Blamo took the motion according to how it was filed.

As a professor at law, Cllr. Lamin Blamo said the defense team did not deny that the defendants did not conduct their behavior properly therefore it amounts to admission and that gives the prosecution an edge that indeed it has proven its case for which the defendants should not be granted an acquittal.

Cllr. Lamin Blamo said by the mere fact that the defense prayed the court saying, ‘assuming’ that the defendants committed the act that they are accused of, eight should be set freed because their names were never mentioned in the court that the State has proved its case against the rest.

Prosecution argued that for the defense to say in open court that mercenarism is not a crime under the laws of Liberia is erroneous therefore count one of the motion should be considered as that. To count two, the argument laid by the prosecution is that defense contradicted itself by recognizing that there is a crime called mercenarism only that their argument is that government lawyers had no evidence against their clients.

The state said count two is bordered on contraction to count one and for count three, the State lawyers argued that mercenarism is a crime provided and defined under the Liberian law because the men were trained in Liberia according to the testimonies and they functioned and supported the attacks in Ivory Coast.

While to count four, the State said it is mere favoritism for the defense team to be seeking the release of some because their names were not mentioned when in fact the police testified that they provided statements each and those are already part of the court’s records in the proceeding.

The prosecution said in the evidence provided which were basically oral testimonies, it proved its case linking all defendants therefore the motion for a judgment of acquittal is not supported by facts and the law; it is not proper and lacks foundation.

The State said the motion from the defense counsels should be crumbled because the intention is to waste the court’s time. The judge is intended to rule into the matter today beginning at 10 a.m.; C. Winnie Saywah reports.