A Criminal Court ‘D’ jury took a little more than three hours on Monday, December 30, to find David Safranu not guilty of terrorism, one of the three charges levied against him by the State.
Safranu, had been held for his role in the kidnapping of an American citizen, Chrisiana Andrainopoulous, in September 2012.
Together with other defendants he was charged with multiple crimes including terrorism, criminal conspiracy, and facilitation of a plan to commit terrorism.
To the disbelief of state lawyers, however, the jury Monday returned from their deliberation room with a unanimous guilty verdict on charges of criminal conspiracy and facilitation to commit terrorism, as opposed to terrorism, the main crime the prosecution tried to establish.
Crimes under Liberian law allow a lesser sentence of up to few months in prison for lesser crimes.
Immediately following the jury’s verdict, Safranu broke down with joy as his family cried in opened court.
But the verdict was rejected by state lawyers, who vehemently prayed the court to set it aside and order a new trial.
They also asked the court to disband the entire jury panel.
That request was opposed by defense lawyer Cllr. Dempster Brown, who called it a “baffle the jury verdict.”
It is not clear whether the request will be granted or ignored by Judge Yussif Kaba, who is expected to come out with a sentencing date within five days.
With the convictions, the jury found that Safranu helped the other defendants to kidnap Madam Chrisiana Andrainopoulous, upon her arrival in the country in September 2012, at the Roberts International Airport.
Evidence presented suggested that Safranu facilitated and conspired with other defendants, who had escaped the country.
Details of the indictment said that on September 23, 2012, defendant Safranu criminally conspired with others to kidnap the American woman, Madam Chrisiana Andrainopoulous, who arrived in Liberia on an SN Brussels flight from the United States of America (USA).
The document further said that the kidnappers demanded a ransom of US$250,000 or US$9,000, in a bid to release her.
It also alleged that they kept her for days before, realizing the victim had no money on her person, deciding to release her.
While his alleged co-conspirators managed toescaped, defendant Safranu was later arrested by police on October 1, 2012 at his Voker Mission residence in Paynesville.