Seven Criminal Suspects Set Free in Bassa

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At least seven of several criminal suspects, who were arrested and detained for a prolonged period without trial and have been crying for justice, walked out on August 21, 2014 with smiles on their faces when the city court set  them free.

Relatives and friends of the released suspects went gay after the associate magistrate pronounced the release of the suspects that day.

Magistrate Brown set the seven criminal suspects free when he ruled on a two-count motion filed by Grand Bassa County’s Public Defender Paul Philip Jarvan, requesting the court to set his clients free following the deliberate failure of the state prosecutors to adjudicate the case.

In court one of the defense counsel’s motions disclosed that the suspects were arrested and charged with Burglary, theft of property and aggravated assault by officers of the Grand Bassa County Liberia National Police Detachment, which  forwarded them to the court for pre-trial.

The defendant through their counsel requested the court to post a valid criminal appearance bond because they were detained for two to four months, respectively,  without trial, and the court granted same.

The defendants’ counsel, based on their prolonged detention without trial, prayed the court for their release as required by law and in keeping with Rule Nine (9) of the Rule of court.

Rule nine provides that no criminal case in the Magisterial and Traffic courts should remain pending and be disposed of more than 30 days after arrest.

The court, having keenly listened to the defense lawyer’s motion pro and cons and there being no resistance by the state prosecution, granted the motion saying it was in harmony and consistent  with law.

Following this, the court ruled that the defendants be released from further detention at the Buchanan Central prison in keeping with Rule nine of the Rule of court governing magistrate and traffic courts because, accordingly, the court is not a party to any suit for a given case before it.

Those released include Sam Massaquoi, Jonathan Wreh, Emmanuel Karwor and Mohammed Konneh formally charged with Burglary.  Others are Henry C. Brown and Zacheous Kpagar,  charged with theft of property; while Fredrick Klay was charged with Aggravated Assault.

The release of the seven suspects stemmed from the over crowdedness of the Buchanan Central Prison and the inmates’ cry for justice following their prolonged detention without trial, something they described as injustice and abuse of their legal and constitutional rights. 

“Because of this, some of us are getting sick without medical attention, and our greatest fear is that some of us who are not sick could be affected by those who are sick,” the inmates lamented.

According to observation by this newspaper, during a visit at the prison cell, some inmates were found with sore lips and other illnesses which need  serious and quick medical attention.

Evidenced by the inmates’ claims, the cell usually holds 40 inmates but currently holds more than 70 inmates, thus making it overcrowded and most uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, there is a dire need for the intervention of the public defender of the county, the Judiciary System, human rights groups in the county and the country in general, to ensure the speedy trial of the influx of the prolonged detainees languishing behind bars.

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