The fate of 13 persons that were sentenced to life imprisonment for their involvement in staging mercenary activities in neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire now rest with the Supreme Court.
Following compelling arguments yesterday by attorneys for prosecution and defense, the fate of the 13 convicts now rests in the hands of the Supreme Court.
The attorneys argued whether or not the High Court should reverse the 2013 decision by Criminal Court ‘E’ at the Temple of Justice that convicted the 13 men for mercenary activities.
The lawyers’ arguments were based on the defense team’s appeal against Judge Emery Paye’s judgment to the Supreme Court.
Judge Paye, in early June 2013, conceded with the jury unanimous guilty verdict and sentenced the 13 men to life imprisonment. The defense team rejected the verdict and announced an appeal before the High Court.
After the lawyers’ arguments, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor informed the parties that the court would reserve its ruling on the matter.
Prosecuting attorneys in the case are asking the High Court not to disturb the unanimous verdict and the life sentenced given by the court to the convicted men.
The state pointed to four separate witnesses who testified during the trial to seeing that the convicts were based in the Garlos Town including the Thai forest and controlled areas in that country.
They also cited witness testimony that the convicted men used weapons such as M-50, RPG and Ak-47 to fight in La Cote d, Ivoire.
The prosecution also highlighted prior incidents in 2010 to 2012 regarding the killing of several persons including seven United Nations peacekeepers by the convicts.
“All of our witnesses like Thomas Glaider, Pascal Kollie, and Baryee Gaye, corroborated each other’s testimonies and hence the court has heard and tried the fact and could not hesitate, but to arrive at that decision,” they further alleged.
They added, “Witnesses, Inspector Savior Howard of the Liberian National Police, visited the crime scene as opposed by the defense lawyers that none of the investigators visited the crime scene both in Liberia and La Cote d’Ivoire.”
Defense Attorney, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, on the other hand, urged the High Court to reverse the judge’s ruling and release the convicts, “because the lower court ignored the fact that the material evidences given in the case were based on hearsay, particularly the evidence presented by Thomas Gladior, whom they alleged was the source of the information that led to the arrest and indictment of the defendants.
Cllr. Gongloe then argued that the evidence produced in the case did not prove the indictment as to the existence of a training camp in Liberia.
Gongloe cited testimonies given by two witnesses from La Côte d’Ivoire regarding the 13 men’s involvement in their country’s civil conflict was based on hearsay, meaning they were told by someone else.
They also contended that there was not a forensic report presented to the court to establish that the 13 men used guns.