Court to Hand Down Verdict In US$100M Cocaine Case – Latest Liberian News

A fifteen-member jury panel has been listening to testimonies of witnesses from both the defense lawyers and the state prosecutors, and will hand down their final verdict following closing arguments by both the defense lawyers and the state prosecutors.

Criminal court “C” at the Temple of Justice is expected to make a ruling in the US$100M cocaine case on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

The case has been going on for the past three months after several suspects were charged and forwarded to court to be tried.

In October 2022, the joint security operations headed by LDEA arrested and confiscated a container belonging to the TRH Training Corporation.

Four persons were indicted by the Liberian government in connection with the shipment of the cocaine, and they have been on trial on multiple charges ranging from criminal conspiracy, money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, and unlicensed importation of controlled drugs.

The 100m cocaine case has claimed public interest and other International communities and organizations have closely followed the trial at criminal court ‘C’ for the past three months.

A fifteen-member jury panel has been listening to testimonies from witnesses from both the defense lawyers and the state prosecutors.

A total number of seven general witnesses and five subpoenaed witnesses were made to appear before the facts trial.

The jury panel will hand down their final verdict following a closing argument by both the defense lawyers and the state prosecutors.

During the trial, the state prosecution produced six general witnesses and three rebuttal witnesses, as well as CCTV footage of one of the defendant’s cell phones believed to have contained a photo of the container tracking numbers, a stocked kit containing cocaine and physical testing of the drug in open court to convince the trial jurors about the existence of the cocaine allegedly seized from the THR premises.

While the defense on the other hand produced one general witness who testified on behalf of the remaining three defendants and six subpoenaed witnesses.

The state prosecutors might base their argument on the testimonies of one of their key witnesses, Samuel Nimely, the general manager of TRH who is believed to be a whistleblower in the case.

The state prosecutors are poised to use a portion of Nimely’s testimony, which could serve as a focal point to prove their case.

Nimely claimed that the defendants offered to give him US$200K for a container of pig feet where the cocaine was allegedly discovered, which is normally sold for U$21,000.

The state prosecution also used the mobile phone images of the parking of said container that was shipped from Brazil to Liberia allegedly by the defendants.

The phone was said to have been seized from the defendant before his arrest.

“We were able to identify the narcotics as having been grade A cocaine chemically tested. The cocaine was stocked in boxes labeled silver whiskey, the container having been identified and the suspects arrested,” Nimely said in his testimony.

While the defense team’s closing arguments might focus on two of its subpoenaed witnesses’ testimonies.

In laying out their arguments, the defense lawyers also look at the testimonies of two of its witnesses, James Hinneh, president of the Customs Broker Association of Liberia, and Othello Gablah, publisher of the New Dawn Newspaper.

They noted in their deliberations that the $US100m cocaine was allegedly shipped into the Country by the TRH Trading Corporation situated along Japan Freeway in Topoe Village, Gardnerville, Monrovia; noting that few months later, another consignment was discovered in the same vicinity.

Hinneh’s in his testimony accused the National Port Authority (NPA) of not issuing the TRH Trading Corporation any import permit declaration to clear their container from the Free Port of Monrovia that contained the alleged $US100m cocaine, leaving the port without being searched.

Moreover, Hinneh, the defense’s fifth subpoenaed witness in the ongoing US$100 million cocaine case told the court and jury that BAVIC did not also permit TRH to clear their container.

“the cocaine container didn’t follow the BAVIC regulations, because it does not attach its permit before the clearing of the container by TRH, ” the defense fifth witness said.

He further testified that the container was to be checked and confirm that it was free of dangerous substances. He also testified that TRH Trading Corporation also violated the custom regulation by shipping the US$100 million cocaine container into the country.

Othello Garblah also testified that the TRH Trading Corporation was to be held responsible for the shipment of the container containing the US$100m cocaine into the country with the assistance of the government of Liberia.

Garblah narrated: “Basically, in any given situation criminals will exploit any weak system in this case, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has admitted that TRH had been given certain privileges allowing them to clear their goods/ consignment of containers under such arrangement which is using mere invoices or bill landing. Therefore, any criminal knowing such a system could exploit the same,” he noted.

According to Gablah, before the arrival of the container, the Global Maritime Tracking Solution which tracks shipments across the globe said that the container with the US$100 million cocaine was subjected to physical inspection but it was ignored.

Meanwhile, the jurors will retire into their room of deliberation to bring a verdict in favor or against the defendants after the final arguments.

Those expected to be liberated or incarcerated are three foreign nationals and a Liberian identified as Oliver Zayzay

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