The trial of a Lebanese national indicted for illicit human trafficking, smuggling of human beings, gang rape and criminal conspiracy, is expected to begin today at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
Defendant Abbas EL Debes was indicted along with co-defendants Bashir AL Lakis, Ghazi Bashar, HayahDebes, all Lebanese nationals and Richard Dickson Tamba, a Liberian for their alleged involvement in trafficking 14 young Liberian girls to Lebanon between 2011 and 2013.
The hearing started last Thursday with the selection of the petit jury, but the prosecution and the defense team were able to obtain only 12 persons as regular jurors, remaining three persons to serve as alternate jurors.
Following the resumption of the jury selection process on Friday, the Sheriff announced that he had made due diligence search of the remaining three jurors, but only obtained one person.
The presiding Judge William Sando ordered him to find the three remaining persons today, (Monday) to enable the court conduct speedy trial.
Some legal scholars, who spoke to our judicial correspondent shortly after the trial was adjourned,said the prosecution will outline the theory of the case today when the jurors shall have been sworn under oath.
The indictment which brought defendant Debes under the jurisdiction of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court alleged that he and other co-defendants conspired, transported, transferred and facilitated the trafficking of several young Liberian girls to the Republic of Lebanon.
The 22-count indictment revealed that defendant Debes, who will be tried separately from the other co-defendants, allegedly trafficked the girls to Lebanon through the Roberts International Airport (RIA) purposely for exploitation, by means of deception and abuse of the positions of vulnerability to achieve the consent of the trafficked persons.
Defendant Debes, according to the indictment allegedly conspired with co-defendant Richard Tamba, a Liberian to carry out the transactions regarding the girls, purposely placed them in danger of forced slavery, sexual assault and rape and subjected them to forced labor in Lebanon.
The accused is a resident of Front Street and owner of the SPEEDO Printing Press situated in Buzzy Quarter Community, where according to the indictment,were allegedly used as a recruitment center.
Count-four of the indictment stated that the girls were placed under the pretense that they were going to be employed to work in supermarkets, restaurants, and also serve as secretaries in Lebanon and would be paid between US$200 and US$250 per month, with the understanding of going to schools there to further their education.
The indictment disclosed that upon the arrival of the Liberian women in Lebanon, co-defendants Ghazi Bashar and Bashir Lakis allegedly took their passports from them and distributed them to various family homes for US$3,500.00 and pocketed the proceeds.