Judge Gbeneweleh Frustrates Gov’t Again


More than a month after he threw out government’s major case against some former executives of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of Criminal Court ‘C’ has again freed another two persons who the state accused of stealing over US$100,000 from the coffers of the International Bank (IB), where they were employed.
He was the same judge who brought down a ‘not guilty’ verdict in favor of the late General Charles Julu, when he was accused by government of treason.
Government sometime in April 2013 arrested and charged defendants Kelvin B. Saving and Ricks B. Wilson with multiple crimes, ranging from theft of property, criminal facilitation and conspiracy. Unfortunately, they failed to indict and arraign them for trial, arguing that it was because of the Ebola outbreak.
They also contended that the delay was due to many cases they had with the grand jury of Montserrado County, which could not permit them to indict those two defendants immediately.
In counter argument lawyers representing the defendants asked the court to dismiss and discharge their clients for the failure of government to have proceeded with the case or to have indicted them.
Judge Gbeneweleh yesterday in his ruling explained that in April 2013, when the defendants were arrested and charged by the Monrovia City Court, before they were subsequently transferred to Criminal Court ‘C’, there was no outbreak of Ebola in Liberia.
He further ruled that the contention of the prosecution that there were several cases before the grand jury did not imply any legal justification not to have indicted the defendants.
According to him, Section 18.2 of the Criminal Procedure Law makes it mandatory that “in the absence of a good cause shown the court shall dismiss the complaint for failure on the part of prosecution to indict a defendant for indictable offence.”
He went on to say that “the Legislature never contemplated that Montserrado County alone should have more than one grand jury.”
“The Lawmakers,” he said, “in their own wisdom created a provision for Special Jury as provided for in Section 15.5.”
The intent of the Special Grand Jury is to indict any defendant who committed a criminal offence and who has not been indicted by the Grand jury, Judge Gbeneweleh said.
He emphasized that the law provides 42working days for a grand jury and if the days expired prosecution should constitute a special jury, which should remain sitting as long as the public interest is required which the prosecution failed to do.
“Therefore, the motion to dismiss for failure to proceed since 2013 in consistence with the law is hereby granted. And prosecution’s complaint is hereby dismissed,” he declared, adding, “the defendants are hereby discharged without prejudice to the state consistent with the law.”


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