Trial of a Mauritanian man held on bail for allegedly taking away his three children without the knowledge of their mother will shortly resume at the Monrovia City Court after a superior court, Criminal Court ‘A,’ on Tuesday, September 23, ordered it to do so.
Mohammed Seedee Falee was charged with “Kidnapping” after an incident in which he took three of his children, Asia Mohammed, Sedemey Mohammed and Ali Mohammed to his native country without the knowledge of their biological mother, Jamelia Sylla.
At Tuesday, September 23rd hearing, Judge Johannes Zlahn mandated Magistrate Kennedy Peabody to take over the case by declaring, “The Monrovia City Court is hereby ordered to resume jurisdiction over the matter.”
Judge Zlahn had earlier halted Magistrate Peabody from further hearing the matter following a complaint filed against his initial ruling by lawyers representing defendant Falee.
Initially, the Magistrate had mandated the defendant to produce the three children within three weeks period as of July 18.
He also made defendant Falee to sign a promissory note, indicating that if he does not produce the children within the time specified, he would be jailed at the Monrovia Central Prison and his bail be set-aside.
However, in the Criminal Court mandate, Judge Zlahn further declared that the court was only responsible by law to grant the defendant a bail, but not to go any further with the case.
“Magistrate Peabody was to transfer the entire matter to the Criminal Court for an indictment to be drawn against the defendant by the grand jury for Montserrado County.”
According to him, it was not in the preview of Magistrate Peabody to compel the defendant to prepare any promissory note or threaten to incarcerate him if he does not produce the children within three weeks.
He maintained that the matter before the Monrovia City Court was for it to conduct preliminary hearing and to make sure that the defendant was bailed.
“The court has the mandate to arrest and bail defendant, but not to render any decision into the matter,” he added.
Before Judge Zlahn’s action, Magistrate Peabody rejected a “Motion for Enlargement of Time,” filed by Falee’s lawyers.
The defense team, in their request argued that the Ebola outbreak in Liberia was making it difficult for people to travel beyond the country border.
In that direction, they claimed the movement of citizens and foreigners have now become difficult, occasioned by the reported transmission of the disease to other people by travelers from Liberia.
This situation and, the announced state of emergency by the government, the lawyers further claimed, have also compounded the existing problems.
This, according to them, has rendered the defendant unable to produce the living bodies of the children before the court on the August 11 date.
The case started in early July 2014, when Madam Sylla claimed that the defendant unlawfully took away her three children from her residence to an unknown direction where they were treated as a slave.
She further alleged she feared that the children may have being killed. Therefore, she asked the court to ensure that her children are made to return to Liberia where the defendant illegally kidnapped them.