Liberia: Solicitor General Tuan Suspended Amid Allegations of Jury Tampering


… as trial of former Chief Justice Scott takes shocking turn

Solicitor General, Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, has been suspended from participating in the high profile murder trial of former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three others, amidst allegations of “jury tampering”.

Tuan, who is one of the key lawyers prosecuting Former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three other defendants for the alleged murder of Musu has been accused of clandestinely visiting the sequestered jury outside of court hours.

Tuan visit, which Judge Rooselvert Willie was not aware of, has been described as an attempt to influence the jury's potential decision amidst series of missteps from the prosecution,  which includes being caught sneaking in a high profile  witness who the Court was forced to stop from testifying. 

“Cllr. Nyanti Tuan [is being] suspended from further taking part in the trial as one of the Government lawyers and fined US$250 to be paid within 72 hours or three days,” Judge Willie said in a ruling, which comes as the Solicitor General admitted to having visited the Temple of Justice beyond the Court working hours and interacting with officers assigned at the jury quarter.

Tuan, in his admission, noted that while he had interaction with the security, he never met anyone of the jury. 

The judge, however, did not say whether or not the Solicitor General provided him any details of the discussion held with the security officers assigned at the jury quarters.

According to a complaint filed by the Jury Management Team, the Solicitor General was observed visiting the jury quarters, located within the grounds of the Temple of Justice, on the evening of September 13th, at approximately 8:00 PM.

The decision by the Court to sequester the jurors was aimed at safeguarding the panel’s independence and preventing any external influences from affecting their deliberations.

However, during his unannounced visit, Tuan stated, as per the jury management’s report, that his purpose was to inspect and ensure that the police officers assigned to the jury quarters were effectively carrying out their duties.

Tuan, in a meeting with the Judge, which also involves the defense lawyers, admitted to visiting the Temple of Justice premises on the specified day and date, albeit at around 5:30-6:00 pm rather than the reported 8:00 pm.

The Solicitor General’s action, which legal experts believe raise concern about potential mistrial scenarios, has forced the judge to immediately order an investigation to ensure the integrity of the trial proceedings.  The Judge’s investigation is expected to proceed swiftly, with the aim of ensuring that justice is served impartially and transparently. 

The defense legal team, who has consistently proclaimed their clients’ innocence throughout the trial, has yet to issue a statement regarding Solicitor General Tuan’s suspension. 

The unprecedented development adds an extraordinary layer of complexity to a case just as the Ministry of Justice finds itself mired in controversy, having earlier clandestinely introduced a witness to testify in the ongoing trial.

The Ministry’s actions last week resulted in the rejection of Tarnue Kerkulah, a police commander of Zone Six Police Depot, in the Township of Brewerville, whose testimony the Ministry considered key to its drive for a conviction.

According to the Court, the testimony of Kerkulah, who was not listed in the prosecution’s indictment as one of the state witnesses, would have undermined the principles of transparency and fairness upon which the justice system is built and compromised their ability to prepare their case adequately.

The trial has been marked by intense public interest and scrutiny due to the high-profile nature of the involvement of the former Chief Justice. 

Scott, a revered legal figure is accused of orchestrating the murder of her niece along with three other family members and subsequently covering it up. 

The crimes, if proven, could result in severe penalties, including a lengthy prison sentence as it involves other charges of criminal conspiracy, and providing false information to law enforcement officers. Meanwhile, Judge Willie has announced the expulsion of the four police officers who accompanied the Solicitor General to the jury quarter. The judge has instructed his Clerk to write to the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police to replace the four expelled officers.