Gov’t Defies Criminal Court Orders?

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    Is it now becoming a clear defiance of Criminal Court ‘C’s’ ruling, which instructed the Government of Liberia to deport convicted Ugandan, Shirat Nalwadda, to serve her four-year imprisonment in her home country.

    The Court's ruling has not been effected after nearly two months since said ruling was handed down.

    Ms. Nalwadda is still incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison, a source close to her told the Daily Observer.

    The Court in April sentence Nalwadda, after jurors rendered her guilty of unlawful possession, trafficking and distribution of narcotic drugs in the country.

    Immediately, Judge Blamo Dixon ordered the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to have her deported from Liberia through diplomatic channels to serve her sentence in the Republic of Uganda.

    His decision was seriously questioned by the government’s lawyers, who demanded that she stay in the country and serve her prison term.

    They argued that they lacked the money to underwrite the cost of sending Nalwadda back to her homeland.

    However, lawyers seeking her deportation alleged that it has been close to two months following the Judge’s verdict, and the State has failed to send her back to her homeland.

    They argued that the government‘s action was deliberate and in total defiance of the Court.

    “Despite repeated attempts to have her deported, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is still reluctant [to do] so,” one lawyer, who spoke with the Daily Observer under condition of anonymity, alleged.

    According to him, personal initiatives by the defense to raise money to help government send Nalwadda back home have failed to yield any fruitful results.

    He could not say how much money had been raised so far since launching the initiative to repatriate the defendant to Uganda.

    “We don’t know what to do now; we have left everything in the care of government. Let them decide the fate of Shirat,” he said.

    In the court ruling, Judge Dixon declared: “Defendant Nalwadda is hereby adjudged guilty of the said crime, and she is hereby further sentenced to imprisonment for the period of four consecutive years with immediate effect.”

    He further declared “she is also hereby ordered to be deported from Liberia through diplomatic channels to serve her sentence in the Republic of Uganda."

    According to Judge Dixon, the evidence produced by the prosecution before the court established the guilt of the defendant beyond all reasonable doubt.

    Defendant Shirat Nalwadda, a native of Uganda was arrested by state security at the Roberts International Airport on November 30, 2013 with 1.2 kilograms of heroin allegedly found in her luggage, which the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) values at US$30,000 (L$2,400,000).

    She was charged with the alleged commission of the crime of unlawful possession, trafficking and distribution of narcotic drugs and subsequently indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on December 11, 2013. She denied the charges during trial.

    Shirat, 24, told the court that she had come to Liberia based on an invitation extended her by a friend called Ekina, and that before coming to Liberia she was thoroughly checked in Kampala. When she arrived in Liberia, security personnel at the airport checked her twice before calling her for the third time to notify her that drugs had been found in her luggage. The defendant added that she had not come into contact with drugs before.

    During the trial, the prosecution produced three witnesses, who confirmed and affirmed the allegation in the grand jury’s indictment against the accused, while the defense counsels also produced three witnesses including the defendant herself.

    In final arguments before the jurors' verdict was handed down, the prosecution, headed by Cllr. Serena Garlawolo maintained its position that it has established a prima facie (open and shut) case against the defendant beyond all reasonable doubt to warrant her conviction.

    To the contrary the defense counsel, headed by Atty. Zumo Jallah, called on the jurors not to declare the defendant guilty as the charges levied against the defendant were false, fabricated and misleading.

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