A legal document (brief) explaining why the Supreme Court should reverse the lower court’s judgment that convicted and sentenced 13 persons to life imprisonment on the charge of mercenary actions has been filed before the Full Bench.
The document was filed on Monday, December 1, by the defense team, but it comes exactly a day, after the High Court was scheduled to hear the matter.
The men were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on June 10 by Judge Emery Paye of Criminal Court ‘D.’
The most significant details of why the lawyers argued that the 13 persons should be entitled to a new trial are outlined in the defendant's appellate brief, drafted and filed by Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe.
A brief or memorandum establishes the legal argument for the party, explaining why the reviewing court should affirm or reverse the lower court's judgment based on legal precedent and citations to the controlling cases or statutory law.
In their brief, the lawyers further argued that the High Court should not allow government to wait for a proper case for testing its mercenarism law.
“And not this case, because facts and circumstances surrounding it are not in agreement with the objectives for which the law was enacted for the internal security of the country,” they emphasized in their brief.
Cllr. Gongloe maintained that “This is our position and it is the position we held when the case was first called for trial in Criminal Court ‘D”, during the May 2013 Term of Court, under the gavel of His Honor Yussif Kaba, not the judge who convicted their clients.”
According to him, they held the view that the mercenarism law of Liberia was applicable outside the territorial limit of the country.
“But,” Cllr. Gongloe stated “Judge Kaba, in addition to the argument relied on the common law definition of mercenarism, as contravened in the Black’s law dictionary and overturned our motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.”
Gongloe, who handled the case at trial, emphasizes that the crime of mercenarism under the penal law was enacted by the National Legislature to protect Liberia from “bounty hunters,” who may wish to participate in military operations against the state and by aiding a state to engage in war with Liberia.
On the contrary, the human rights lawyer contended in the document that their clients who are all Liberian citizens, were proved guilty for the crime of “mercenarism” beyond the reasonable doubt by the court.
“They were not arrested in Cote D’ Ivoire the alleged crime scene. Also, they were not arrested at the border, while going to or coming from that country with arms and ammunitions or any warlike materials in preparation for military engagement or recruiting from the battlefront,” Gongloe further defended his brief.
He went on to say that “there was no evidence that they were arrested by the Ivorian government and turned over to the Liberian government based on bilateral arrangement in the form of mutual legal assistance or mutual diplomatic reasons.”
Further in his argument, Gongloe indicated that the “Ivorian government did not submit to the Liberian government a list of persons including the convicted suspected by the said government of committing acts of mercenarism in their country and escaped to Liberia.”