Defendant Denied ‘Medical Transfer’ in Gang Rape Case

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Defense counsels’ request to have Lebanese businessman, Abbas EL- Debes, accused of gang rape and human trafficking, transferred from his cell in Bomi County, where he is standing trial, to the Monrovia Central Prison for medical reasons was yesterday denied by a Circuit Court in that county.
Debes together with Tamba Gibson, Bashir Lakus and Aja Debes were jointly indicted for their alleged collective role in trafficking 14 Liberian girls to Lebanon, where the girls allege they were used as “sex slaves.”
Apart from Debes, the whereabouts of co-defendants Tamba Gibson, Bashi Lakus and Aja Debes have remained unknown.
But Debes’ lawyers were yesterday pressing for the court to allow the accused to be taken from his cell in Bomi County to the Monrovia Central Prison where they believe he would have access to better medical attention because he is suffering from hypotension (low blood pressure) and kidney-related illness.
The lawyers further asked the court to allow the accused to transfer to a new prison cell where he would remain and and commute from there to appear in court on a daily basis for his case in Bomi County.
However, the lawyers’ request was denied after prosecution asked Judge William Sando to deny the request on grounds that Debes, who is on trial for criminal offences, should not be given preferential treatment from other detainees.
The lawyers went on to argue that there were qualified medical practitioners in Bomi County that could handle Debes’ health condition.
Debes earlier denied the allegation levied against him when he first appeared before Judge Sando after the court read the indictment to him.
It may be recalled that Judge Evelina Z. Quaqua of Criminal Court ‘E’ at the Temple of Justice freed a Lebanese businessman, Anthony Kassabli, who was convicted of gang rape and human trafficking, on a US$25,000 bond, citing the same medical reason.
What was astonishing in Kassabli’s case was that he had been sentenced to seven years in prison earlier and commanded to serve his term at the Monrovia Central Prison.
Another issue was that prosecution’s witnesses, meaning the 14 girls, were not in court yesterday to listen to the arguments concerning the transfer of the case to Monrovia.
This is the second time sitting that the girls have not been seen in court.
It was not clear whether or not they have left their “secluded zone” in Kakata, Margibi County where they have been residing following their arrival from Lebanon.
Their absence created a serious argument on the first day of the trial on September 4.
It was due to their absence from court that the case was suspended and re-assigned to yesterday in Tubmanburg.
However, the case proceeded with both the defense team and prosecution qualifying 12 of the 15 jurors, who are expected to be empanelled to avoid them coming into contact with either of the parties.
The case was re-assigned to today, Friday at which time the parties will be able to complete the selection of the 15 member panel that will decide the matter.

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