US$100 Million Cocaine Case Postponed over Lack of Fuel to Transport Defendants – Latest Liberian News
TEMPLE OF JUSTICE, Monrovia – The Judge of Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice Blamo Dixon on Monday postponed the US$100 million cocaine case to the next day, Tuesday April 4, due to the Justice Ministry’s failure to bring the defendants to court.
The Ministry failed to transport the defendants, citing lack of fuel for the buses that were intended to commute the defendants to court.
In rendering his decision, Judge Dixon appeared disappointed and accused the Ministry, that is serving as the prosecution of deliberately refusing to provide fuel to commute defendants to the courtroom, something he said undermines the proceedings.
The Judge said he reliably learned that the Ministry of Justice was reneging on its responsibility to fuel the buses, leaving the task with corrections officers who he said have no business in using their personal money to provide fuel.
“The information the court received reveals that it was the correction officers who put money together to buy one gallon of fuel for the buse to bring the defendants. The prosecution should take note and act accordingly,” Judge Dixon said.
To stop the recurrence of the “embarrassing situation’, the Judge order the Ministry to provide sufficient fuel for the buses so that the defendants will be brought to court on time.
A correction officer who asked for anonymity, told court reporters that the Justice Ministry has refused to give their allowances for the US$100M cocaine case. Usually, correction officers assigned to court cases are entitled to allowance.
In addition to the postponement, Judge Dixon said, and agreement was reached between the jury management office and the court to allow the jurors out to obtain their voter registration cards.
Judge Dixon said: “When the proper mechanism is put into place, the prosecution and defense teams shall send their representatives for both parties to accompany the jurors to the registration centers that will be selected by the Jury Management Office,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice’s failure to commute the defendants to the courthouse was not the only inconvenient incident at the court on Monday. The prosecutor’s witness that was scheduled to take the stand did not show up as well.
However, the prosecution team cited that their witness did not appear due to illness.
“Our witness that was to take the witness stand suddenly fell ill and will not make it today in time,” the prosecution said.”
But the defense team refused to buy the prosecution’s excuse. They argued the prosecution had listed eight witnesses in the indictment to testify, and with five already testifying, they were left with three options.
“The information that the prosecuting Attorney is giving that one of its witnesses is ill, which the defendant does not dispute, nevertheless, there are two other witnesses out of the eight that could have taken the stand today. More besides, the name of the witness that is said to be ill was never disclosed to the court; which creates a doubt,” the defense emphasized.
The defense implored the Judge to caution the prosecution to be ready at all times for the trial in order to accord the defendants their constitutional rights to a speedy trial.