Monday, July 29, 2013

“Mercenaries” defense corners State prosecutors

As Judge Kaba disallow illegal video recordings of defendants
State prosecutors yesterday lose out on an argument concerning the introduction of some video recordings as evidence in the trials of 18 Liberians alleged to have committed mercenarism against neighboring Ivory Coast. Based on a motion to suppress the evidence as filed by the lawyers representing the defendants, video clips testified to by the State’s fifth witness, Mr. Thomas Gblayee, was disallowed by His Honor Yussif D. Kaba on grounds that they were illegally obtained. Having disallowed the State’s video-graphic evidence, Judge Kaba order that Witness Gblayee take the witness stand to continue the testimony he gave on Saturday, July 20, 2013 but he was not in the bailiwick of the court which prompted the judge to postpone the day’s hearing to today. During the early morning hours of yesterday sitting, state prosecutors installed video screening gadgets in the edifice of Criminal Court “D” ready to display video recordings which had been testified to by Witness Gblayee while on covert operations which led to the subsequent arrest of the defendants in the dock and the retrieval of some small arms. According to Witness Gblayee, each time he was around the defendants he used his disguised camera phone to record conversations they were having concerning their alleged mercenary operation in the Ivory Coast. Some other activity Witness Gblayee claimed to have capture with his phone were his visit to Defendant Neezee Barway at the Ivoirian refugees’ camp in Grand Gedeh and the journey to the Gbeliah Forest where some of the small arms allegedly used by the defendants in Ivory Coast were retrieved from. When said testimony was given by Witness Gblayee, the Stated requested that the videos be included among the already existing evidence furnished the defendants lawyers but Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, one of the lawyers representing the defense counsels objected to such inclusion. Cllr. Gongloe’s objection was overruled by Judge Kaba who said to serve the best interest of justice it was necessary that every piece of evidence that could help the case be admitted. However, based on the issue of legality raised by the defense counsel concerning video-graphing of people and places without consensus Judge Kaba rated the video clips sought to be introduced into evidence as illegal thus being fit for disallowance. When the clips were disallowed by Judge Kaba, cheers swept across the court spectators (journalists excluded) and glee fill the faces of the defendants who could have been truly exposed if their images were going to be seen in the suppressed video-graphic evidence. Meanwhile, Witness Gblayee is expected to retake the witness’ stand today to continue answering to direct examination from state prosecutors after which he will undergo cross-examination so as to ascertain what he actually knows about the involvement of the defendants alleged operations in the Ivory Coast.

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