MONROVIA : Former Liberian Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three other family members who were arrested last Tuesday but later released on Wednesday by way of a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by their lawyers have been denied bond following their rearrest on Thursday for murder, criminal conspiracy and making false statements to the police in the case involving the gruesome murder of Charloe Musu on February 23 this year.
Madam Scott and three family members including Gertrude Newton, Rebecca Y. Wisner and Alice C. Johnson were on Thursday, June 22, 2023 rearrested and remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison, popularly known as “South Beach”, where they have spent the weekend, having being denied bail bond by the Stipendiary Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court, Magistrate L. Ben Barco who presided over the ruling of bail bond request from the defense lawyers to have their client released because she was not a flight risk.
According to our judicial report who covered the proceeding, the official court’s hearing was called to order after 12:00 pm on Friday, June 23, 2023, presided over by Monrovia City Court Magistrate L. Ben Barco.
The movants were represented by former Justice Minister, Frances Johnson Allison; former Supreme Court Associate Justice Cllr. Karbinneh N. Ja’nneh; former Law School Dean, T. Nagbalee Warner; Cllr. Augustine C. Fayiah; Cllr. Jaydu Johnson Sarvice, Cllr. Ade Wehde Kerkula, Atty. Dixon R. Karnga, Atty. Facia Harris, among others.
The State was represented by the Ministry of Justice through prosecution lawyers who included lead Counsel Nyaneti Tuahn, Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia; Atty J.F. Dempster Kuoh; Cllr. Bobby Livingston; and Cllr. Adolphus Karnuah, Sr. The prosecution prayed the court to resist any bill bond hearing for the former chief justice and three core dependents.
Following the presentation of arguments by the movants (defense lawyers) and respondents (prosecution), the judge then went over the arguments that were made by both the movants and the respondents.
In his final ruling, stipendiary magistrate Barco read the ruling, denying the bail bond of the former Chief Justice.
According to the Stipendiary Magistrate, “the movants failed to have taken advantage of the pretrial hearing that this court has jurisdiction over.”
The stipendiary magistrate accordingly based his ruling on several key precepts which he carefully outlined during the hearing. Judge Barco noted that the prosecution had argued that the state did not have evidence; but opined that if the movants wanted to prove that the state did not have evidence, and that the case should not proceed any further, thus their client should be granted bond, they should have taken advantage of the pre-trial hearing precept that was made available to them. But the movants failed to do so, therefore, Judge Barco said he could not grant the movants a preliminary or pre-trial hearing, because the court cannot do for one what you did not do for yourself.
Judge Barco’s second reason for denying the movants a bail bond was because the Monrovia City Court lacks the jurisdiction over felonies, especially first-degree felony; and one of the charges there is murder. Therefore, the only remedy was to refer and send the case to a court that has the legal jurisdiction; hence, the case involving Gloria Musu Scott and three others charged with murder in the first-degree, criminal conspiracy, and making false statements, the case was transferred to Criminal Court “A”.
Another argument of the movants was that the former Chief Justice is not a flight risk; that, according to the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia, every individual is entitled to bill bond. The State however countered that argument, stating that murder as stated in the Constitution is nonbailable; and the judge as well used that point when he was rendering his ruling.
After the ruling of the judge, the defense lawyer then took an exception, saying they will make immediately a summary proceeding to the Circuit Court to have the case heard, wherein the defense team will carry the court or the judges to the Circuit Court to review their ruling.
The defendants and the three others did not appear in court, but were represented by their lawyers who appeared to receive the ruling from the court.
Based on the court’s ruling former Chief Justice Scott and her three relatives could be remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison while the case is heard at Criminal Court “A” in the coming days, weeks or months.