Lawyers representing Perry Dolo, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf‘s ex-convoy chief, along with three others, have suffered a major setback after their request for separate trials was denied on Wednesday, June 4.
Counsels for the defense had prayed the court to have each of the accused tried separately, contending that there was disparity in the indictmentx against some of the defendants, and that there is no substantial and independent evidence of their involvements in the crime.
They further argued that the defense is “contradictory and antagonistic” and would result in an unfair trial for each were they to be tried together.
However, Judge Yussif Kaba in his ruling, declared that the “Court does not see how all defense of defendants under the indictment will be contradictory or antagonistic. None of the defendants up to this point has confessed judgment and, or adjusted his position that will affect any of the other defendants.”
Judge Kaba further declared, “It is possible and that is normally stated, that the defenses of defendants collectively charged with a commission of a crime may be different depending on the allegation specifically against them, and the particular role each is alleged to have played in the commission of a crime. But this difference is not a ground to claim prejudice.”
The indictment charges the defendants with the commission of two acts: “Unlawful possession of a narcotic drug with the intent to sell and criminal facilitation.”
Judge Kaba noted that the burden of proof is on the State to produce evidence in support of those accusations.
“In the absence of trial, this court cannot pre-determine the nature, facts or evidence available to the court or the defense,” he stated in his ruling.
“Therefore, the Court hereby orders denial of the motion for Severance,” he concluded.
In November 2013, Dolo together with Sekou Rogers, Augustine Saah, Cyrus Slewon and Mohammed Bah were jointly indicted by the Government of Liberia with the commission of multiple crimes including unlawful possession of a narcotic drug with the intent to sell, and criminal facilitation.
In the indictment, government alleged that defendants Dolo, Rogers and Saah were arrested with a huge quantity of marijuana weighing 315 kilograms and valued at LD$330,750.
The prosecution alleged that it was transported on a Police Nissan Patrol jeep marked GSA-LNP-104, a decommissioned presidential escort vehicle.
The document drawn by the grand jury of Grand Cape Mount County further alleged that co-defendants Slewon and Bah were personal friends of Dolo, one being a driver.
According to the prosecution, the two were instructed by Dolo to go to Cape Mount to negotiate the release of the police vehicle.
It further alleged that co-defendant Bah brought a plastic bag containing clothes which he gave to Dolo. Dolo then took off his police uniform and put on civilian clothes.