High Court to Review 13 Mercenaries’ Life Imprisonment Case on Tuesday

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    A Partial view of the 13 convicted mercenaries_web.jpg

    The Supreme Court will consider hearing of the conviction and life imprisonment sentence for 13 persons charged with mercenarism.

    The High Court, which is the final arbiter of justice in the country, will hear argument in the matter on Tuesday, December 2.

    The Justices said last week they would hear the convicted men’s appeal against the ruling of Judge Emery Paye of Criminal Court ‘D’ at the Temple of Justice.

    Judge Paye convicted and sentenced them to life imprisonment on June 17, after he affirmed the unanimous guilty verdict of the empanelled jury.

    This is the only option that is now available to the defense team. If the Supreme Court affirms the lower court's decision, then that will be the final arbiter of justice in this case.

    But, if the Supreme Court reverses the ruling, the case could go into re-trial with a new judge assigned to preside.

    Initially, the lead defense lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe argued that the defendants were denied a fair trial, because the verdict of the six-member jury was not commensurate with the evidence adduced during the case.

    Their appeal was contained in an application requesting the court to institute a re-trial.

    Unfortunately, that request was denied by the Criminal Court ‘D’ judge, and he later stressed that the men will remain in jail for the rest of their lives.

    The 13 defendants were among 18 persons charged by the state with mercenarism in September 2012, in connection with the cross border attacks in the Ivory Coast, which resulted in the death of several persons including seven United Nations Peace Keepers from Niger serving in the la Cote d’Ivoire.

    The civil unrest in la Cote d’Ivoire had erupted between supporters of former Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo and that of President-elect Alassane Ouattara at the time.

    Five of the defendants were released for lack of evidence by the court, which the prosecution interposed no objection, while the rest of the 13 defendants were tried for their alleged role in the cross border attack.

    But, they denied all of the charges against them during the trial.

    Most of the defendants claimed they knew nothing about the war in la Cote d’Ivoire, with some of them considering the trial a witch-hunt against them, because of their connection to Grand Gedeh County.

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