Liberia: Govt Dealt Another Blow in U.S.$100Million Cocaine Casa
By Lincoln G. Peters
-Chamber Justice declines to issue the peremptory writ
Justice in Chamber, Associates Justice Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay on Wednesday, May 24, declined to grant the peremptory writ prayed for by the Liberian Government not to return the US$200,000 seized from defendants in the US$100m drug case.
The Chamber Justice decision comes days after the accused were acquitted of all charges and the government was instructed by trial Judge Blamo Dixon to return the defendants’ money.
But the Government through the Minister of Justice and Attorney General filed a peremptory writ, which sought to overturn the judge’s decision.
A peremptory writ of mandate, or mandamus, is a judicial writ (i.e. order) to any governmental body, government official, or lower court requiring that they perform an act or cease to act where the court finds that an official law, duty, or judgment requires them to do so.
During a conference with both parties in chamber, Associates Justice Gbeisay said he found no merits in the case.
“After listening to both parties, I like to decline in granting the writ of peremptory as prayed for by the prosecution. This decision is based on the lack of merits in the case. Therefore, I urged that this matter be trashed due to the lack of merits,” Associates Justice Gbeisay ordered.
However, after hearing the verdict, prosecution announced an appeal to the full of the Supreme Court.
In its peremptory writ of prohibition filed on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to place a stay order on the release of the money to the four individuals.
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This comes after the announced its rejection of Judge Dixon’s ruling that the US$200,000 seized from the four men be returned after their acquittals were pronounced.
The government’s argument is that the money in question was US$113, 000 and not US$200,000, adding that it was confiscated from one Gustavo Henrique who was tired by the government in absentia.
But during his instruction to the jury who found the defendants not guilty, the prosecution claimed that Judge Dixon remarked that if the Jurors had returned with a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict, the US$200,000.00 taken from the defendants should be immediately returned.
The government argued that Judge Dixon’s order to the jurors was erroneous because it was not in his purview to issue such an order.
Moreover, the prosecution argued that the amount in question does not belong to the four defendants who were set free by the jurors.
According to prosecutors, the government confiscated US$113,000 and not US$200,000, adding that the amount was deposited at the Central Bank of Liberia and a copy of the confirmation of the deposit of the amount (US$113,000.00) is in their possession.