A plea to release Shirat Nelwadda, a Ugandan woman accused of trafficking over 1.2 kilograms of heroine valued at US$30,000, on a bail bond was rejected by Criminal Court ‘C’ on Wednesday, March 19, at the Temple of Justice .
Her lawyers were seeking bail in order for her to be released from detention and later return for her trial on multiple crimes, which include unlawful possession and distribution of a narcotic drug.
However, that request was rejected by prosecution, who argued she had been placed on bail before and rearrested while attempting to escape the country through the Roberts International Airport (RIA).
A bail bond is one method used to obtain the release of a defendant awaiting trial upon criminal charges from the custody of law enforcement officials.
It is also a written promise signed by a defendant or a surety (one who promises to act in place of another) to pay an amount fixed by a court should the defendant named in the document fail to appear in court for the designated criminal proceeding at the date and time specified.
However, at Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Blamo Dixon denied her lawyers’ request for admission to bail filed by the defense team.
After denying the bail, Judge Dixon instructed state lawyers to make available every piece of evidence in their possession to the defendant’s lawyers for a speedy trial since she is a foreign national.
Defending his decision, Judge Dixon said he was doing it to afford the defense team the opportunity to review the government’s allegation and prepare adequately in defense of the accused.
Shortly after his decision, Ms. Nelwadda was remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison; where she will remain until her trial begins.
A legal expert (who wished to remain anonymous) told the Daily Observer that defendant Nelwadda was never represented by a lawyer throughout her arrest and subsequent release on bail by the Monrovia City Court, where she first appeared when she was arrested in November 2013.
The expert said the charges have never been read to the defendant in open court for her to deny or admit to, as it has been done in every criminal case.
Details of the document that brought Nelwadda under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court— a copy of which is in the possession of this paper— said, on November 30, 2013 she was arrested with 1.2 kilogram of heroine valued at US$30,000 by joint security assigned at the RIA.
The document further quoted police as saying: “the drugs were in a black suitcase that she was traveling with.”
It continued: “During the investigation, the defendant said she was traveling to Liberia for the first time to meet a “boyfriend” called Ekina, who she does not know, but was told to meet by Nalutarya Laila, her girlfriend in Zama, Kampala the capital city of Uganda.”
It further alleged that “upon her arrival at RIA and subsequent arrest with the drugs , defendant Nelwadda could neither give the contact address or telephone number of the so-called boyfriend, who she claimed is the owner of the drugs she was carrying.”
“There and then, the crimes of unlawful possession, trafficking, and distribution of a narcotic drug the defendant did commit,” police concluded in the document.