The Government of Liberia is reportedly using delay tactics in an effort to prevent the deportation of Shirat Nelwadda, a Ugandan woman convicted and sentenced to serve four years of imprisonment in her native country.
Shirat, 24, was convicted for smuggling over 1.2 kilograms of heroin into the country. She was arrested at the Roberts International Airport by officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
In a chat with the Daily Observer, a source (who begged for anonymity) within the Judiciary said government’s action is deliberate, alleging “they never accepted Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court C’s ruling ordering them to deport her from the country through diplomatic channels. They wanted her to serve the prison term right here in Liberia.”
Ms. Nelwadda has been in detention since November 2010 at the Monrovia Central Prison.
When she testified on her behalf at the court, she denied the allegation and claimed that she was sexually harassed by state security.
That allegation, however, was not taken into consideration by Judge Dixon, and he sentenced her to four years of imprisonment on Monday, April 14, after he confirmed and affirmed a unanimous guilty verdict brought down against her by the trial jury on April 7.
Ms. Nelwadda was charged by the government with crimes ranging from unlawful possession to trafficking and distribution of 1.2 kilograms of narcotic drugs valued at US$30.000, which she denies.
“It is the candid opinion of Criminal Court ‘C’ for Montserrado County, Republic of Liberia, that the unanimous guilty verdict of the trial jury brought down against defendant Shirat Nelwadda for the alleged commission of the crime of unlawful possession, trafficking and distribution of narcotic drug is hereby confirmed and affirmed,” Judge Dixon ruled.
“She is hereby adjudged guilty of the said crime, and further sentenced to imprisonment for a period of four consecutive years with immediate effect,” he declared, adding, "The defendant is hereby ordered to be deported from Republic of Liberia through diplomatic channels [in order] to serve her sentence in the Republic of Uganda.”
Quoted Liberian law, Judge Dixon said, “Any person who sells a narcotic drugs without the written prescription of a physician, dentist; or veterinarian, except as otherwise provided by the provisions, shall be guilty of felony of the first-degree. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or have under his control any narcotic drugs except as authorized by Title 33, Chapter 41, Section 41.23, Sub-section 1 and 2, Section 41.24 Sub-section 1 of the Public Health Law of the Republic of Liberia.”