Upon paying a US$10,000 bond, Darlington George, the dismissed director of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) accused of flogging a lady identified as Esther Glain, was yesterday released by Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court ‘A.’
Judge Dixon had earlier sentenced the accused to the Monrovia Central Prison after he failed to satisfy the bond.
The Judge, who had initially allowed George to be handcuffed on his way to his cell at the Monrovia Central Prison, changed his mind hours after the bond was paid by the defendant’s legal team.
But, George’s co-defendant, James Tamba, was not freed yesterday because his lawyer could not secure his bond, citing lack of money.
Initially, defendant George was placed on bail when he and co-defendant Tamba were arraigned before the Gardnersville Magisterial Court. It was in the Gardnersville Community that the incident between the defendants and the plaintiff allegedly took place. Shortly following the incident, the Liberian National Police (LNP) charged defendant George with simple assault.
Knowing the gravity of George’s action, the state decided to ask for a transfer of the matter from the Gardnersville Court to Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice, subsequently changing the crime from simple assault to criminal facilitation and aggravated assault, which is a second degree felony and was above the jurisdiction of the magisterial court.
It was the Grand Jury for Montserrado County that indicted George and Tamba with those crimes due to a request from the government.
It was based on the issue of jurisdiction that the defendant appeared before Criminal Court ‘A’ yesterday.
To their surprise, when the accused and their legal team appeared, they were asked by Judge Dixon whether they had a bond to file on behalf of the accused as their earlier charge of simple assault had now changed to aggravated assault and criminal facilitation, a bailable offence.
The lawyers who did not know that the previous charge against their clients had changed managed to produce the simple assault bond – which was the reason for the defendants not going to jail – while they were being prosecuted at the magisterial court.
During yesterday’s hearing, a women’s group dressed in blue and white was seen outside the court chanting “We want justice! We want justice! Justice needs to be done!”
Their action irritated several onlookers and a legal expert who was heard saying, “This is not a political matter. We are talking about justice so they don’t need to create sentiments in the case. What they are doing is wrong under the law and they have to desist from doing so.”
Despite the concern, not a single court officer attempted to stop the women from chanting.
They continued their campaign until George and Tamba were handcuffed and sent to the Monrovia Central Prison.
Justifying his decision to send the two defendants to jail, Judge Dixon declared that, “co-defendant, Tamba having been charged with aggravated assault, which is a second degree felony, was (subject) to the penalty of imprisonment for a period of five years.”
The Criminal Court Judge added, “The court demands a bond from James Tamba in the amount of US$5,000 and also demands an insurance bond or property valuation statement bond.”
As for defendant Darlington George, Judge Dixon said, “He is charged with the alleged crimes of criminal facilitation and aggravated assault. Being a felony of the second degree, then of course it becomes a misdemeanor of the first degree…This court demands a bond of US$10,000, and it can be paid either by insurance or property valuation bond.”
Accordingly, Judge Dixon’s decision was based on the Constitutional Rights under the Law, and that the defendants were also entitled to a speedy, fair, transparent, impartial and open or public trial.
“You have the right to request for a jury or bench trial, meaning the judge alone would serve as jury and judge or depending on the request of your lawyers that you people have or intend to have,” Judge Blamo advised the defendants.
It was due to their failure to immediately secure the bond that prompted the Judge to send them to jail at the Monrovia Central Prison, advising them to secure a valid bond with sufficient sureties and witnesses.
He told the defendants that, “Those insurance bonds can be obtained from an insurance company…the court cannot name a particular company, but the court will accept the bond from any insurance company operating under the Law of Liberia and has met the requirements of the Central Bank of Liberia.”