A surveyor, Mr. Arah Kamara has accused Criminal Court “C” of rendering what he calls one of the most questionable verdicts in judicial history.
In a release issued in Monrovia, Mr. Kamara said the verdict by the court was given on Friday, March 21, 2014, at Criminal Assizes Court “C” at the Temple of Justice. Defendant Arah Kamara was declared guilty by those he described as six ignorant jurors in a theft of 500 acres of land case when there was no proof of the existence of such land.
According to Mr. Kamara, it was neither shown that the Private Prosecutor, Hesta Baker, had connection or interest in the alleged 500 acres of land demonstrated by the evidence adduced in court by the prosecution and uncorroborated testimonies given by its witnesses.
The release noted that earlier, the prosecution which had the ultimate burden to prove the guilt of the defendant (who is presumed innocent until the contrary is proven) beyond all reasonable doubts, but failed miserably to establish, with precision and certainty, the exact location and portion of the land which they claimed was stolen by the Defendant.
The release added that the Indictment (copy of which is in the possession of this paper) states that “…at a time intervening the year, 1977, and thereafter, the Private Prosecutor and Private Prosecutor, acquired five hundred (500) acres of land out of a total of eight hundred (800) acres of land, from their grandmother, Elizabeth Moore-Johnson in the lower Virginia area, Montserrado County, Republic of Liberia….”
“The indictment further charged the defendant of purposely, knowingly, willfully and intentionally stealing, converting and exercising unauthorized control over the remaining five hundred acres of the private prosecutor and Prosecutor 500 acres of land. The value set for said property is US$4,000,000.00 (Four million United States Dollars). This position the prosecution held up to and including the time of resting in to,” the release stated.
According to Defendant Kamara, surprisingly and disappointingly, during cross examination, the Private Prosecutor admitted that it was 21 lots of land in question; an admittance which grossly varied with the Indictment. “When questioned as to the ownership of the said acres of land, the Private prosecutor somersaulted by stating that the land was not her property but that she was serving as an Administrator for the property of her Grandmother, Elizabeth Moore Johnson. Upon the request of the Defendant Counsel that she be made to produce evidence to the effect that she is indeed and in fact the authorized Administrator duly recognized by the Monthly and Probate Court of Montserrado County, she produced, identified and confirmed, an Extended Letter of Administration (Copy is in our possession) for the intestate estate of Thomas Ralph Moore and Joseph Moore, an estate far removed from the property in court,” Mr. Kamara noted.
According to the release, what is most interesting is that the Prosecution which prepared the Indictment upon oath for the theft of the 500 acres of land submitted a legal memorandum for the theft of twenty-one (21) lots of land since it could not prove the allegations in the Indictment, without any amendment to the initial Indictment (as our practice of law demands), something that requires the attention of legal luminaries in criminal proceedings.
The release stated that it is law in Liberia and other common law countries that in order to convict for theft of property, the prosecution must first and foremost establish that there was a property; that the said property belongs to the Private Prosecutor or that the Private Prosecutor has interest in the said property; that the property was taken away without the consent of the Private Prosecutor; that it was the Accused/Defendant that took away the said property; and that the property must have value legal pundits who followed the said trial believed that the elements to establish theft as listed above were absent in the Prosecution’s evidence as the Prosecution presented on behalf of the Private Prosecutor, Letters of Administration concerning properties belonging to the late Thomas Ralph Moore and Joseph Moore which are far removed from the disputed properties involved in the trial of the late Elizabeth Moore Johnson who was female; something that brought laughter to observers of the trial.
The release said the Monthly and Probate Court of Montserrado County could not even discover any file in favor of an intestate estate of Elizabeth Moore Johnson on whose behalf the verdict was given. “While everyone in Liberia frowns on dubious land sales in the country, it is not in the interest of justice to impute guilt on anyone without proof in the interest of deterrence. It is noteworthy also that the private Prosecutor under vigorous cross examination from the defense counsel, retracted her statement that she ever gave her deed to the accused,” the release noted. The release quoted the prosecutor as saying that, “We have always kept our mother deeds.”
Meanwhile, final judgment in this matter is expected to be rendered by the sitting Judge of Criminal Court “C”, His Honor, Blamo Dixon. Expectations are that the Judge will set aside the verdict and render judgment according to law; however, if the contrary were to happen, one wonders if the judgment will be for the alleged 500 acres of land or the alleged 21 lots of land which is yet to be proven in the face of a verdict that still demands proof,” the release said.
The release concluded that, “We are watching and the International Community is also watching to see the quality of the Liberian judicial system in even a matter as this one.