Lebanese Convicts Released on US$25,000 Bond

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    It has taken four days since the Supreme Court heard legal arguments of the UP’s complaint

    After paying US$25,000 as bond, a Lebanese national convicted of gang rape and illicit trafficking in human beings has been released on ground of Ebola threat by Criminal Court ‘E.’

    Defendant Anthony Kassabli was convicted early this year and sentenced to seven years in prison for committing the crimes, gang rape, illicit trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling by then Judge Evelina Z. Quaqua.

    Immediately following Judge Quaqua’s ruling she was replaced with another Judge, Cllr. Ceaineh D. Clinton –Johnson, who took the decision to free the defendant claiming Ebola threat, after the lawyers paid their client’s  bond fee.

    Her action, however, came after lawyers representing Kassabli claimed that their client was suffering from heart failure due to severe hypertension, and therefore, requested that he be admitted to bail.

    However, that request was vehemently protested against by state lawyers, arguing that they should be allowed to carry out their statutory mandate that is to care and protect for prisoner held in their custody.

    They further argued that the court should deny the request, but rather, they might be allowed to take defendant Kassabli to hospital where he would remain and be treated, since the request claimed that he is ill.

    But, Judge Johnson ignored prosecution’s request and released defendant Kassabli on bail to his lawyers.

    Anthony Kassabli has already left the country to seek medical treatment abroad, according to a legal expert.

    Releasing the defendant, the Criminal Court Judge declared that “Wherefore and in view of the proceeding law cited, this court hereby ordered the defendant placed under a bond of US$25,000, and it is hereby so ordered. Matter suspended.”

    Justifying her action, Judge Johnson noted that “considering the conditions prevailing in our nation that is the state of emergency, and occasioned by the outbreak of Ebola, joined with the fact that our hospital facilities have been challenged, this court say only one of the two conditions stated is the remedy available to the court.”

    Citing Section 13.1 Paragraph 3 of the Criminal Procedure law, Judge Johnson said, it speaks to admission to bail for illness.

    “It speaks to admitting defendant to a place where his health can be better preserved. If keeping them in prison will cause permanent injury or death or putting a defendant under bond, even after conviction,” she further quoted and said, “a defendant whose health is an issue can either be put in different facility or admit to bail.”

    Supporting the court’s decision, the Criminal Court Judge explained that both prosecution and defense team admitted before the court and agreed that the defendant has a medical condition.

    According to her, the lawyers agreed that defendant Kassabli was suffering from an illness that was proven by the attached medical report presented to the court.

    “That medical report was accepted by the prosecutors, who in their resistance asked this court to give permission to take him to the hospital, where he would remain and be treated,” she stated.

     Judge Johnson said, her court was of the considered opinion that with those positions the parties were aware of the medical condition of the defendant.

    “The law of the country takes into consideration of the health of everybody, including those, who are in detention,” she continued with her justification.

     “By that reasoning,” the Criminal Court Judge acknowledged that “it is the responsibility of the state to take a defendant in their custody and with health issues  to hospital without a permission of the court.”

    “Had there been a medical certificate perfected by the prosecution to show different medical conditions? Or any evidence that the defendant had refused such an intervention of prosecution to have the defendant placed under medical attention?” Judge Johnson wondered.

    “Since that is not so, there is no reason for contention,” she added.

    On July 31, 2013, the  Grand Jury of Criminal Court ‘A’ indicted co-defendants Anthony Kassabli, Edmond Dib Kassabli and Habba Kou Fawaz, who is on the run  with the commission of  the crimes of gang rape, illicit trafficking in human beings, migrant smuggling and possession and sale of physical object for lethal use.

    Co-defendants Anthony Kassabli was brought down guilty of gang rape (a capital offense) and human trafficking and sentenced to seven (7) years in prison.

    While, defendant Edmond Kassabli was also found guilty of the same crimes sentenced to one (1) year in prison.

    Interestingly, he has already served his one year imprisonment and has left the country.

    They were said to have recruited, transported and harbored several Moroccan women into the country and compelled them to have sexual intercourse with customers of the Moline Rouge Bar and Restaurant, operated by them.

    They also seized their traveling documents and locked up and made the women to work long hours at the business center.

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