Liberia: Woman Found Guilty of Human Trafficking

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Monrovia – Hawa Bangura, a Sierra Leonean woman who was on trial for human trafficking, was seen weeping after the court brought down a guilty ruling against her on Monday, January, 14, 2019.

Prison guards tried to console Bangura from weeping after the ruling by Judge Roosevelt Willie of the Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice, but their effort yield no result.

Bangura, a mother of five children, was escorted back to the Monrovia Central Prison, where she has been in detention since her arrest on November 30, 2o17.

Reporters struggled to photograph Defendant Bangura while the two female officers escorting her shield her from the lenses of cameras. 

Prior to Judge Willie’s judgment, prosecution and defense lawyers held a final argument on Monday morning followed by the ruling in the afternoon at 2:00 pm local time.

Prosecution lead lawyer Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation, Wesseh Alphonsus Wesseh asked the court to take judicial notice of its witnesses and the evidence provided to render its judgment as the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

While defense counsel and Public Defense Lawyer Cllr. Joseph Debbley counter-argued and prayed the court that the Defendant was impoverished who has come to Liberia from Sierra Leone in search of greener pasture and was innocent of the charge, and that the state was only relying on speculation and did not prove its case.

Judge Wille later said: “The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses coupled with the evidence adduced by the prosecution showed that they proved their case beyond reasonable doubt, the fact that the Defendant refused to testify and exonerate herself of the charge shows that she was guilty.” 

But defense lawyer Cllr. Debbley took exception to the judgment.

Judge Willie continued by ordering the Probation Office of the Ministry of Justice to investigate and furnish the court on the character of Bangura Thursday, January 17, 2019 the date that the court has scheduled to sentence the Defendant.

Defendant Bangura was indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County during the February 2018 Term of Court for human trafficking but denied the charged and joined issue with the state to prove its charge against her.

The indictment states that on November 30, 2017 she planned to sell two other Sierra Leoneans, Famata  Kanu 37 and her daughter Kadiatu Kromah. She had brought them to Liberia under the guise that they were here to buy used clothes take back to Sierra Leone.

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