US$100 Million Drugs Case: Empaneled Jury Decides Today -Are Defendants Guilty or They Are Not Guilty?

By: Melvin Jackson

MONROVIA : The empaneled jury of the Criminal Court ‘C’ will today, Thursday, May 18, decide the US$ 100M cocaine case involving four defendants accused of shipping drugs from Brazil into the country.

The jury, for the past two months, has been listening to testimonies from more than seven general witnesses and five subpoenaed defense witnesses giving their knowledge against four defendants accused of responsibility for bringing the drugs into the country.

The fates of the defendants, Oliver Zayzay,  Malen Conte, Adulai Djibri Djalo, and Makki Admeh Issam,  who were accused of bringing  the more than US$100 million  drugs into the country will be decided today. They were tracked for allegedly bringing the drugs into the country and taken Court.

Four persons were indicted by the government in connection with the shipment of the cocaine and they have been tried to prove their innocence or guilt of multiple charges brought against them by the Liberian National Police, including criminal conspiracy, money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs and unlicensed importation of controlled drugs.

The empanelled jury will be expected to come with either guilty or not guilty verdict in keeping with testimonies and arguments by both the defense lawyers and the prosecution witnesses and lawyers.

During the trial, state prosecutors paraded six general witnesses and three rebuttal witnesses, and CCTV video footage while the defense produced one general witness who testified on behalf of the remaining three defendants, and six subpoena witnesses.

One of the defendants’ cell phone was said to have been seized from the defendants prior to their arrest, and is believed to have contained photos of the containers containing the stockpiles of the cocaine. The phone was admitted into evidence in addition to physical testing of the drug in open court to prove to the jurors about the existence of the cocaine allegedly seized from the premises of THR, on the Somalia Drive. The THR is said to have been the company hired that brought the drugs into Liberia and is serving as a whistle blower in the investigation.

The prosecution based their argument based specifically from the testimonies of Samuel Nimely, the general manager of THR, believed to be a whistleblower in the case.

Samuel Nimely’s testimony claimed that the defendants offered to give US$200K for a container of pig feet in which the cocaine was allegedly discovered, although transporting such container normally caused US$21k.

Meanwhile, the jurors will retire into their room of deliberation to bring a verdict in favor or against of the defendants after the final arguments.

The prosecution will show the mobile phone images of the parking of said container shipped from Brazil to Liberia allegedly by the defendants.

“We were able to identify the narcotics as being Grade cocaine chemically tested. The cocaine was stocked in boxes labeled silver whiskey. The suspects were arrested after the container was identified“, Nimely testified.

While the defense team was closing arguments, they might definitely focus on two of its rebuttal testimonies.

In laying out their arguments, the defense might look at the testimonies of two of its subpoena witnesses, James Hinneh, president of the Custom Broker Association of Liberia and Othello Gablah, publisher of the New Dawn Newspaper.

In his testimony, James Hinneh accused the National Port Authority (NPA) that they did not issue TRH Trading any import permit declaration to clear the cocaine container from the Freeport of Monrovia; and added that surprisingly, the container left the port without being searched.

Hinneh, the defense fifth rebuttal witness in the ongoing US$100million cocaine case, told the court and jury that BAVIC did not also give permission to TRH to clear the container.

“The cocaine container doesn’t follow the BAVIC regulations, because it does not attach its permit prior to the clearing of the container by TRH,” the defense fifth witness said.

According to Hinneh, the report was to confirm that the container is free of dangerous substances. He also testified that TRH Trading also violated the custom regulation by shipping the US$100million cocaine container in the country.

When Othello Garblah took the Witness’ stand, his testimony held TRH trading responsible for the shipment of the cocaine container in the country with the assistance of the government.

Garblah, the publisher of the New Dawn Newspaper, said “basically, in any giving situation criminals will exploit any weak system in this case Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has admitted that TRH had been given certain privileges allowing them to clear their goods/ consignment of containers under such arrangement which is using mere invoices or bill of lading“, adding that therefore any criminal knowing such system could exploit same.

According to Gablah, prior to the arrival of the container, the Global Maritime Tracking Solution that tracks shipment across the world reported that the container with the US$100million cocaine be subjected to physical inspection but it was ignored.

Meanwhile, the jurors will retire into their room of deliberation to bring a verdict in favor or against of the defendants after final arguments in the case today.

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