Judge Suspends Proceedings in Mercenary Trial

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    Nearly a week after putting  18 men on trial for mercenary activities in neighboring La Côte d’ Ivoire, the men on trial vandalized the entire Criminal Court ‘D.’

    Judge Yussif Kaba on Monday January 6, suspended further proceedings into the matter.

    Defending his court’s action, Judge Kaba, said he was suspending the trial on grounds that the defendants’ violent behavior could endanger further proceedings.

     Judge Kaba said their behaviors poses “insecurity” to free, fair, and transparent deliberation.

    “This court can’t and should not conduct the trial, where in the mind of the court and the security of the trial is not ensured. We will not put the court in any danger,” Judge Kaba angrily reminded both the defense team and prosecution in open court on Monday.

    The 18 defendants on Tuesday, December 31 went on the rampage, taking over the facility of the court to the extent that some of them removed their clothes.

    They even destroyed the circuit bench (Judge’s seat) in the court room.

    It took the intervention of the police to bring the situation under control on December 31.

    Prior to the defendants’ behavior, the lawyers (defense and prosecution) were in the process of selecting a trial jury that would help the judge to hear and determine the matter.

    At Monday’s hearing the defendants were not present in court; only their legal team headed by Cllr. Taiwon Gongole.

    The lawyers, however, did not accept Judge Kaba’s decision to suspend further hearings in the case that has being ongoing for nearly two years.

    Giving more details on the defendants’ behavior, Judge Kaba said, “Concerning the facility of the court and the nature of the defendants, the court does not have the necessary security to go ahead with the trial, especially considering December 31 violent incident.”

    The Criminal Court Judge noted, “I’m of the strong conviction that even the counsels for the defendants were not aware as to what led to the defendants’ violent behavior.”

    Some onlookers openly said that the defendants, many of whom hailed from Grand Gedeh County, were promised by their lawyers that they were going to be declared free people if they appeared before Judge Kaba on December 31. 

    Judge Kaba continued his justification by saying, “Because of the defendants’ behaviors, it is not possible for this court to conduct an orderly, free, fair, and transparent trial at this time.”

    “Therefore, the matter is hereby suspended.” 

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