Friday, August 17, 2012

Journalist Pelenah Pre-Trials Protracted

As Magistrate Grants Prosecution’s Motion for Continuance Pre-Trials of Pressman Darlington C. Pelenah, who along with two others was charged with crimes of armed robbery and criminal conspiracy, have been prolonged at the Monrovia City Court (MCC) due to the absence of a critical state witness. According to counsels for the prosecution in their motion for continuance, the absence of Officer John M. Kollie, who investigated the alleged robbery for which Mr. Pelenah, William Randolph and Benjamin Bookie Gbar were charged, was based on an investigation he (Officer Kollie) was undertaking in relation to violence at the Liberian-Ivorian borders. The Counsels for the Prosecution further prayed the court to enter a subpoena ad testificandum to have the officer come in court at a later unspecified date to give testimony that would linked the alleged suspects to the robbery offence that took place in the GSA Road Community in Paynesville against a money exchanger named Thomas Weeks. However, the counsels for the defense prayed the court to deny the motion as it was a calculated attempt by the prosecuting counsels to delay and baffled the case. The defense counsels contended that the government could produce the witness at any time without a notice of subpoena. They (Defense Counsels) further said that the police officer was secondary evidence to the case and the defendants should be admitted on bail since the prosecuting counsels was trying to delay the case. Having heard arguments from both counsels, said that the statutes of the court calls for speedy trial but granted the prosecution motion for continuance and subpoena ad testificandum based on the fact that the investigation that Officer Kollie was involved with is in the interest of national security. The Magistrate at the Monrovia City Court said the court was under obligation to take note of historical fact that it was not a hidden fact that the Ministry of Justice and security apparatus are investigating individuals linked to the crisis along the Ivorian-Liberian borders. Meanwhile, there have been concerns raised by the Pelenah’s Family that the life and career of the pressman could be ruined if his legal rights to the presumption of innocence and a speedy, free and fair trial are not protected in keeping with the due process of law. Mr. Pelenah was quoted by the FrontPage Africa Newspaper as saying: “my detention is based on my critical stance against societal ills but no link to any armed robbery, some big hand behind my prosecution”. Be as it may, the Monrovia City Court will be hearing the case of the embattled Royal Communications, Incorporated News Director who once served as Deputy Director General for Broadcasting at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) based on a notice of assignment filed with the court.

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