Jurors’ Neutrality Questioned

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The posture and responses of state lawyers prosecuting former National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Matilda Parker and her Comptroller, Madam Christiana Kpabar Paelay, changed on Monday when they sat mute, listening attentively to jurors cross examining their first witness, Blamo Koffa, who is also the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission’s lead examiner.

The prosecutor, at one point during the process, asked the court to disallow one of the jurors, Kissi Kamara, from staying on the panel, arguing that Kamara questioned an expressive opinion which they believed undermined his neutrality as a juror.

After Kamara rested with his question, the prosecution’s team challenged it and requested Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court ‘C’ not to allow their witness to answer it, which the judge did.

However, Judge Dixon did not honor their request to drop juror Kamara from the panel.

The prosecutors also complained that the jury used leading questions more often to emphasize or even introduce points that were helpful to the defendants, ignoring that they were being tried on facts.

For example, some of the questions which the jury asked were:

“Mr. Witness, in your testimony about sinking vessel and that of wreck, please tell the court and jury the difference between the two?”; “During your investigation and your testimony, the wreck removal contract speaks about wrecks removal. Why are you constantly referring to sinking vessel?”; “Can you explain to this court and jury how did you as an investigator decide on who to believe, after the witnesses that you interviewed told you things contrary to that of the two defendants in the dock?”; and, “As contained in your investigative report and in your testimony on the witness stand, you displayed as evidence some photos of sinking vessels as wreck above sea level, can you tell the court and jury of any evidence of wreck removal within the basin?”

Outside of the courtroom on Monday, some members of the prosecution team were heard saying, “The jury was hostile and antagonistic to our witness during the examination.”

Some said, “They are not lawyers but their questions portrayed that they may have been guided by a lawyer.”

Parker and Paelay are being tried from their alleged individual roles in awarding two contracts, wreck removal at the Greenville Port in Sinoe County and security consultancy, to Denmar Enterprise owned by a Liberian, Mr. Deneah Martin Flomo, valued at over US$800,000, which prosecution claimed was received for which work was not performed.

The case continues.

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