By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Criminal Court “D” at the Temple of Justice will today entertain arguments pro et con on a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal filed in favor of the 18 defendants being charged for carrying out or assisting in perpetrating mayhem in Ivory Coast.
Lawyers representing the State in the ongoing prosecution of the 18 persons suspected to have carried out Mercenarism in neighboring Cote d’ Ivoire have prayed the court to deny and dismiss a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal in favor of the defendants because it lacked the legal and factual sufficiency of the averments therein contained.
While the defendants’ legal counsels, a day after the State lawyers had rested on the production of its witnesses/evidence, claimed that the State prosecutors failed to produce evidence that connects their clients to the crime for which they were being tried in Criminal Court “D” which is presided over by Judge Emery Paye.
The 18 defendants which included Nezee Barway alias Joseph Dweh, Morris K. Cole, alias Edward Cole/General Girl, Isaac Taryon alias Wolie Taryon, Steven Gloto alias Rmbo/Ninja, Prince Youty, James Lee Cooper, Emmanuel Say Mah alias Trainer, Moses Baryee alias Moses Sarpee, Sam Tarley alias Bull Dog, Ophoree Diah, Alfred Bobby James, Jr. alias Bobby Sarpee, Prince Barclay, Jacob Saydee, Mohammed Massaquoi, Christopher Laykpayee, Timothy Barlee, Junior Gelor, Emmanuel Pewee and Fred Ghelly have all pleaded not guilty to the commission of the crime for which they are now being tried.
Defense recently filed a Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal in which it informed the court that no evidence was adduced to prove that any of the defendants was arrested at the border during the time of the combat or while returning from the Ivory Coast therefore the State had not established a prima facie case against their clients.
However, the prosecution resisted through an 18-count document where it described the defense argument as a “mere recital of the law that has no relevance to the case at bar” and prayed the court to ignore and dismiss the motion in its entirety.
Prosecution argues that assuming without admitting that some of the defendants were to be released by this motion which accrues to the state a right of appeal, the status of the trial of the remaining defendants remains in jeopardy.
Describing the motion as one fit for dismissal, the State lawyers said the framers of the law never anticipated that some of the defendants would be subject of appeal while others are being trial regularly for the same charge and further contended that the motion relied upon by the movants speaks to a dismissal of an “offense” and not defendants noting, “In the case at bar, there is only one charge, “mercenarism” and that has been established by the State.”
The crime of Mercenarism is a felony of the first degree, by an individual, a group, an association, representative or representatives of a State and the State itself with the intent of opposing by armed violence a process of self-determination or the territorial integrity of another State when the following acts are perpetuated.
Prosecution told the court that during the course of the trial, its witnesses established jointly and severally the connections of the defendants/movants to the commission of the Crime of Mercenarism and explained how witnesses did testify how Co-defendants Edward Cole, NyezeeBarway and Isaac Taryon were listed as wanted persons for the commission of the Crime of Mercenarism for which they were arrested.
They resisted further that there were other defendants arrested in 2011 long before their witnesses took up assignment and the arrest of the defendants were testified to in open court by other witnesses and said some were arrested by other persons and turned over to the police while others were said to have been arrested by the citizens themselves.
The State said witnesses testified identifying photographs of the scene and the bodies of the peace keepers and also told the court how it had produced the various kinds of witnesses required in any criminal case including eye witnesses, investigative witnesses as well as the show of physical evidence.