Cllr. Cooper Kruah, a lawyer at the center of a jury tampering allegation, has described the arrest of a juror of the Civil Law Court as “a complete harassment”.
He did not say what step he would take next.
Juror Elizabeth Belleh was arrested last Tuesday night by officers of the Liberia National Police, after she had allegedly just left the Benson Street office of Cllr. Kruah. He denied that Ms. Belleh did not come from his office.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Cllr. Kruah explained that under the law, if there is a report of juror tampering, it is the responsibility of the opposite lawyer to inform the court to conduct an investigation into the matter.
“It is an unfortunate situation in the practice of law in this country for a lawyer to instruct police officers to jump on an innocent person because he or she is a juror and walking freely in the street,” he lamented.
“She was not arrested near my Benson Street office either; she was arrested around the Capitol Bypass area and not at my office. It is far away from there,” he explained.
He noted that jury issue should not be handled by the police; instead it is the court that is under obligation to do so under the law.
“It‘s unfair for my colleagues to order the arrest of the juror who has been removed from the case and have her photo placed in all of the daily newspapers. This is unfortunate and it was intended to create public sentiment about the trial,” he opined.
According to him, the action of the police was a total harassment and it should be condemned and not allowed to happen again in the judiciary.
Cllr. Kruah is a lawyer of Embassy Suites, Inc., a Lebanese-owned business that is seeking a US$3 million damages lawsuit against Ecobank.
He disclosed that before the trial commenced, lawyers had agreed for the jurors to be kept together at the Temple of Justice. Unfortunately, they were informed that the place where they usually keep the selected jury was under renovation.
Besides, he said, Ecobank‘s lawyer also refused to have the jury kept in a Lebanese-owned hotel.
“We did everything in the interest of justice, but their action could jeopardize the interest of the case that is pending before the court, and disrupt the attention of the public from following the merit of it,” Cllr. Kruah stated.
He added, “I believed that justice will be done at the end of the matter. I don’t think what level of wrong information they may send out about the case that is before the court, but justice will be done at the end.”
When contacted, Police spokesman Sam Collins confirmed that Ms. Belleh was arrested by the police. Collins, however, failed to say where exactly she was arrested.