Supreme Court Sentences Nine Grand Gedeans to Life in Prison

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Monrovia – The Chamber of the Supreme Court was a scene of disappointment and weeping on Thursday by family members of detained Grand Gedeans when 9 of the 13 detainees charged with mercenarism were sentenced by the Supreme Court to life imprisonment.


Report by Kennedy L. Yangian – [email protected]


“Wherefore and in view of the above, the guilty verdict against the four defendants in the lower court is reversed.

The guilty verdict against the nine defendants is upheld, therefore the nine defendants are sentenced to life”- His Honor, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Supreme Court of Liberia

The 13 Grand Gedeans were tried and found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by Criminal Court “D” at the Temple of Justice in July 2015 but lawyers representing convicted appealed to the high court against the sentence.

Human Rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, who took the appeal to the Supreme Court, argued that the state failed miserably to prove its case against the defendants and that the jurors’ guilty verdict against the defendants was contrary to the evidence adduced at the trial therefore the high court should rule and acquit the defendants.

“Your honor the state has failed miserably to prove its case against the defendants and that the testimonies of the state witnesses were un-corroborative and nothing but hearsay,” said Cllr. Gongloe

Cllr. Daku Mulbah, who is also the County Attorney for Montserrado County, resisted the appeal and asked the high court to deny and dismiss it as the state proved its case beyond all reasonable doubts as the state witnesses’ testimonies were corroborative.

“Your honor the state has proved its case against beyond all reasonable doubts as the testimonies is regular, seven rebuttal witnesses and 51 pieces of evidence corroborative to warrant the defendant’s guilt,” said Cllr. Daku Mulbah.

However, in an opinion of the Supreme Court handed down by the Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and endorsed by the four other Associate Justices, Kabineh Ja’neh, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, Philip Banks and Sie-A-Nyene Youh, stated that a defendant in a criminal case is presumed to be innocent until he/she is proven in a case of reasonable doubt whether his guilt is satisfactorily shown he is entitled to an acquittal.

“That in the case before us, the state met the mandatory threshold standards of establishing prima facie evidence against nine of the 13 appellants/defendants,” the Chief Justice said.

“Wherefore and in view of the above, the guilty verdict against the four defendants in the lower court is reversed.

 The guilty verdict against the nine defendants is upheld, therefore the nine defendants are sentenced to life”, the Chief Justice delivered the brief opinion of the court. The full opinion on the matter was not released Thursday.

The Chief Justice named the affected defendants as Nyezee Barway alias Joseph Dweh, Morris Cole alias Edward Cole/General Girl, Steven Gloto alias Rambo/Ninja, Emmanuel Saymah alias Trainer, Moses Baryee, alias Moses Sarpee, Sam Ofori Diah, Alfred Bobby James Jr, alias Bobby Sarpee, Jacob Saydee and Mohammed Massaquoi.

 Regarding the four other defendants, Isaac Taryon, alias Wolie Taryon, Prince Youty, James Lee Cooper and Sam Tarley alias Bull Dog, Chief Francis Korkpor stated that there was no sufficient evidence to connect and satisfactorily establish their guilt.

According to the Chief Justice, despite the general denial of the defendants at the trial, their statements made at the police station before the court shows their admission to the crime of mercenarism.

“That as there was not sufficient evidence to connect and satisfactorily establish the guilt of the four defendants named, the crime of mercenarism with which they are charged is hereby dismissed and they are ordered released forthwith from detention,” said Chief Justice Korkpor.

Chief Justice Korkpor , however, in his opinion fined Cllr. Theophilus Gould US$500 payable in government offer in 72 hours for remarks during the trial in 2015 that if the jury did not find the defendants guilty, Ivory Coast will declare war on Liberia.

A statement the Chief Justice said was outrageous and out of place and does not represent any lawyer of the bar.

The nine Grand Gedeans were among 18 other defendants arrested by state security in the country in 2011 and 2012 during cross border fracas after a post electoral violence in the Ivory Coast between loyalists of Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara.

Five of the 18 were acquitted during trial at the lower court due to lack of sufficient evidence to link them to the crime.

Meanwhile Grand Gedeh County Superintendent, Peter Solo, is appealing on behalf of the county to President Sirleaf to grant the nine men an executive clemency.

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