Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Maryland Murder Case Takes Different Trend

As Government Prosecutors Refused to Adhere to a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Cllr. J. Augustine Toe, one of the defense lawyers representing H. Dan Morias and nine others indicted for their alleged involvement in the murder of Tumu Yuade Allison Thursday, described government’s prosecutors’ refusal to produce the living body of Mle Merriam as a dark and sad day for a nation like Liberia, trying to rise from its ashes of 14 years of bloody armed conflict that resulted into the reported killing of over 250, 000 people.
 Cllr. Toe, Executive Director of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) comments came after government chief prosecutor, Cllr. M. Wilkins Wright told Criminal Court “D” at the Temple of Justice that the state has the right to detain a defendant in any of the prison facility in Liberia, and that Merriam is no exception.
Last week, the defense lawyers filed a petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus with the court that one of the defendants, Mle Merriam, who was arrested in the Ivory Coast, was being detained at a separate cell in Monrovia, where he had been allegedly tortured, beaten and promised US$10, 000 by Cllr. Samuel K. Jacobs if he lies on the other defendants, currently on trial before Criminal Court “B”.
Pointing his finger at his former law professor in the bar, Cllr. Toe told the court that when Cllr. Wright was out of government, he used to speak against human rights violation, but his action has completely changed.
In his argument before the court, one of counsels for the defendants submitted that the state’s blatant refusal to produce the living body of Merriam in open court is not only a disrespect for the rule of law, but also a total disregard for the constitution of Liberia, which he said, officials of government swore to uphold and protect during their confirmation hearing before the Liberian Legislature.
But Cllr. Wright told the court to deny and dismiss the petition on ground that defendant Merriam was charged and indicted, but later escaped the bailiwick of the country.
The Respondent also informed the court that submission filed was pre-matured.
Counsels for the state contended that a writ of Habeas Corpus can lie if the petitioner is detained illegally.
Ruling on the Habeas Corpus is expected to be handed down today by Judge Benedict Holt.