The retrial of four dismissed employees of the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC) began last Tuesday morning, with the defense team refusing juror trial, after their first trial ended in a hung jury.
Their decision gave Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of Criminal Court ‘C’, where the trial was first heard, the opportunity to decide whether the defendants are guilty of the allegations.
The case was scheduled for retrial, after then Judge Jussif Kaba of the same court denied the defendants’ request to dismiss the case.
They were accused of orchestrating a plan, which they succeeded to divert the proceeds generated from the sale of coca-cola products in the amount of US$1,882,464.85.
The defendants have so far denied any wrongdoing.
In early 2012, a jury panel could not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the charges against the defendants, which resulted in a mistrial or hung jury, after more than three weeks in court.
The defendants are facing charges that include misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation.
Hang jury, according to a legal expert, is a jury that is unable to reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
He further explained that if a jury has been given an adequate opportunity to deliberate, but was unable to reach a verdict, a retrial takes place, at the discretion of the prosecution.
He emphasized that a hung jury does not imply whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.
“The subsequent trial does not constitute a violation of the constitutional prohibition of double jeopardy,” the expert clarified.
The indictment alleged that George Paye, described as a master planner, issued payment clearance certificate to customers, including Exclusive Supermarket, indicating that those companies had no liabilities to the LCCBC, against the policy of its management.