Hundreds of prisoners who have not been arraigned before a court for trial could likely be freed if government fails to prosecute them during the November term of Court.
The judges sounded the warning yesterday, at the joint formal opening of the First Judicial Circuit Criminal Assizes A, B, C and D for Montserrado County.
Their planned action, the judges said, is also intended to reduce unnecessary over crowdedness at prison facilities throughout the country.
“This is to ensure that those accused and being in prolong detention of committing crimes get fair, speedy and transparency trial,” Judge Boima Kontoe added when he read his charge to judges, prosecutors and lawyers.
He is the assigned Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice.
Delivering his charge yesterday, Judge Kontoe said prosecutors (state lawyers) should take most of the blame for overcrowding of court dockets (records) and prison facilities.
“This is occasioned by a number of factors including the mindset of those who bring cases before the court, especially the prosecutors,” Judge Kontoe further stated.
Supporting his argument, the Criminal Court Judge went on to openly say that, “They (prosecutors) indict (charge) people and sometimes delay to prosecute those individuals.”
Besides, the Criminal Court Judge maintained, many of those indicted are yet to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Another factor that is responsible for the overcrowding, Judge Kontoe noted, is the long process utilized in collecting witnesses to testify on behalf of government against those indicted (charged).
“To mitigate the situation,” Judge Kontoe vowed, “we would not hesitate to dismiss those cases in this term of court.’
Also cautioning Magistrates and judges of subordinate Courts who attended the opening session, Judge Kontoe said, “Let me remind you that we have a constitutional duty to respect individual’s rights to liberty and enjoyment of general happiness in the performance of our responsibility,” adding “Our duty is to dispense justice without fear and favor.”
He insisted that “judges should subscribe to the core value of the judiciary. This is the only means by which we can ensure transparency in our justice system throughout the country.”