MONROVIA, Montserrado – Judge Roosevelt Willie has imposed a fine of US$50 on lawyers representing the interest of Montserrado’s tenth district representative, Yekeh Kolubah, and four other defendants, in a murder attempt trial.
The judge, who presides over Criminal Court A, fined the lawyers for failing to inform their defendants to appear in court for their trial, after filling a property insurance bond valued more than L$35,000 (US$167).
Representative Kolubah and other defendants, including his personal security guard, were jointly indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado on June 18, 2019, for multiple crimes, including aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit murder, criminal conspiracy, and kidnapping.
The lawmaker had allegedly ordered his bodyguards to beat a resident of his district who had refused to accept a leaflet and t-shirt to participate in the June 7 ‘Save the State’ protest.
According to the indictment, the victim suffered severe torture and was flogged, leaving him to bleed profusely and needing to be rushed to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital for treatment.
The defendants were due to appear in court for trial on Monday. But one of the lawyers representing their interest, Findlay Karnga, had appealed for continuance, noting that they did not have time to inform the defendant on their appearance in court.
According to Karnga, the lead defense lawyer, Lavala Supuwood, was charged with the responsibility to inform the defendants about their appearance was busy with other engagements that he did not inform the defendants.
On behalf of the team, Karnga admitted their failure and claimed responsibility for not informing the defendants to appear before the court. He, however, requested the court to grant them an additional eight days to notify their clients.
“Your honor, we are not supporting our failure not to inform our clients about their appearance to the court. But we are only begging this court to pardon us in giving us additional days to inform other clients who are outside Montserrado,” he said.
But prosecution lawyer Edwin Martin resisted the defense’s application. Martin, who is the county attorney for Montserrado, requested that the court deny the defense’s motion for continuance because their action was deliberate in order to delay the court’s proceeding into the case.
Martin further argued that the notice of assignment for the September 30 trial was given on September 23, at least one week ahead for the appearance of the defendants. One week was sufficient time for the defense to arraign their clients, he said.
In his ruling, the judge, however, noted that while the court acknowledged that the act of the defense counsel was careless and must therefore not go unpunished.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, this court says the defense is herby fined an amount of US$50 or its equivalent at the rate of two hundred [Liberian dollars], and the amount should be paid from now to Wednesday, October 2, 2019,” he said.
The judge also ordered the appearance of the five defendants on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. for the commencement of their trial.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah