The former Presidential Convoy Chief indicted of being in possession of 10 bags of marijuana weighing 315 kilograms and valued at L$330,750,000 (US$3.7M), has denied the drug-related charge.
Defendant Perry Dolo denied the allegation on Friday, June 27 when he and four co-defendants appeared before Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice for the first time to listen to the reading of their indictment.
At Friday’s hearing when the indictment was read to them in open court, all of the defendants alleged that they were innocent of the crime levied against them by the Government of Liberia.
Their denial shifted the burden of proof to the prosecution to produce evidences to the court and jury to establish that the defendants committed the act.
Though the crime is still a bailable offense, the defendants were denied access to bail as provided for under the Liberia Law.
Granting the defendants bail would have released them from further detention at the Monrovia Central Prison to await their trial.
The House of Representatives recently concurred with the Senate to make narcotics-related offenses “non-bailable crimes under the laws of Liberia.” The bill, however, is yet to becomr law.
Dolo and four other persons—Sekou Rogers, Augustine Saah, Cyrus Slewion and Mohammed Bah—were arrested on November 9, 2013, at a joint security check point in Tieni, Grand Cape Mount County.
They were subsequently indicted with the crimes unlawful possession of narcotic drug and criminal facilitation by the Grand jury in that county.
Though they were indicted by the Grand Jury for Grand Cape Mount County, the case was later transferred to the Montserrado County, particularly at the Criminal Court ‘C’’ where they are currently on trial.
In the indictment, the defendants were arrested with a high quantity of compressed cannabis drugs known as “marijuana” that was transported in a Police Nissan Patrol jeep marked “Police Escort GSA-LNP-10-41” a decommissioned presidential escort vehicle.
It alleged that Dolo’s vehicle on two different occasions passed through the joint check point at high speed with siren on, giving the impression that the President Sirleaf’s convoy was travelling in that direction.
The indictment further alleges that on the two occasions the police jeep passed through the joint security check point, not a single government official or vehicle followed Dolo’s escort jeep.
Based on the constant attitude of the operator of the Nissan Jeep, securities at the checkpoint decided to keep surveillance on it.
According to the indictment, the security officers also planned to inspect the car whenever it came back to pass through checkpoint.
It was during their inspection that the defendants were arrested with the ten big bags of marijuana weighing 315 kilograms valued as LD$330,750,000.
Initially, the document alleged, defendant Dolo escaped from the jeep in his police uniform and disguised himself. Fortunately, the indictment said, he was arrested by civilians in the area before being turned over to the joint security.
As for defendants Augustine Saah and Sekou Roger, they were arrested at the joint check point during the search exercise.
Giving details about the arrest of defendants Mohammed Bah and Cyrus Slewion, the document alleged that they were picked up while negotiating for the release of the jeep and the marijuana.
Bah is a driver for Dolo’s Taxi marked TX-8429.
According to the indictment, Dolo call Bah in Monrovia and asked him to contact defendant Cyrus Slewion on Gurley Street in Monrovia to go to Grand Cape Mount County to solve a problem he Dolo was facing.
When Slewion arrived in Grand Cape Mount County, the document maintained, Dolo pleaded with him to go to the check point and negotiate for the release of his vehicle and the police jeep, and Slewion was arrested in the process.
Defendant Bah, the document claims, took a plastic bag containing assorted clothes and gave it to Dolo, who immediately changed the previous police uniform he was wearing.
Besides, the document said Bah went with Slewion to negotiate for the release of the jeep and the consignment of marijuana.