…To Defendants In US$100m Drugs Case

By: R. Joyclyn Wea

MONROVIA-At long last, the Government of Liberia has restituted US$113,000.00 to the four freed defendants in the US$100 million drugs case.

The government’s action to return the money to the defendants is a result of a Bill of Information filed before Criminal Court “C” by the legal team of the four defendants.

In the Bill of Information filed before the court, the legal team of the four freedmen alleged that the government has failed to return about US$211,000.00 as requested by the court.

The legal team requested that the Liberian Government return the US$211,000 that was allegedly taken as ransom by members of the joint national security of Liberia at the time of their arrest last year.

Surprisingly, the government submitted a cheque of US$113,000.00 before the court as money confiscated from the defendants even though they argued that the amount confiscated does not belong to any of the four defendants.

The cheque was later turned out to the defendants who rejected the same on grounds that they want cash and not a cheque. As a result, the court-mandated the prosecuting Attorneys to go and cash said amount and hand it over to the defendants as deemed comfortable.

It was reported by government agents on May 24, 2023, that the four accused drug dealers(now free men)  who were detained in Liberia on accusations of smuggling US$100 million worth of cocaine have disappeared without a trace after a jury unexpectedly ruled them not guilty.

The men were detained in an operation last year that involved US and Brazilian intelligence. They were Lebanese, Liberian, Guinean, and Portuguese. They were accused of bringing 500kg of cocaine from Latin America in a pig foot container.

Before the start of the trial, the Ministry of Justice acknowledged that it had the sum of US$113,045.00 in its possession, which was deposited at the Central Bank of Liberia. This amount was illegally taken from informants during their arrest by state securities working under the Ministry of Justice.

On May 18, 2023, the jury returned four (4) “Not Guilty” verdicts in favor of the defendants for the crimes of money laundering, criminal conspiracy, and unlicensed possession of controlled substances. Criminal Court “C” then ordered the Liberian Government, through the Ministry of Justice, to immediately return the defendants’ US$210,000.00.

According to the defendants, the Ministry of Justice had more than enough time-12 days to take the money from the Central Bank because there was proof that it had been put there.

However, the defendants informed the court that the Ministry of Justice, represented by Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean and Solicitor General Cllr. Nyenati Tuan of the Republic of Liberia did not make any attempt to withdraw the funds from the Central Bank of Liberia within the time allotted to them in order to present the money to the court as it was ordered.

Respondent added that the money has been deposited in the National Security Escrow Account held by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The Respondent also informed the court in its submission that “the sum of US$1,000.00 was arrested on the person of Co-Defendant Oliver A. Zayzay in the Republic of Sierra Leone,” in addition to the sum of US$113,045.00.

They assert that the Ministry of Justice’s declaration in open court that it has US$113,045.00 and US$11,000 that was wrongfully taken from Co-Defendant Oliver A. Zayzay in the Republic of Sierra Leone is conclusive proof that these sums are available and that the Ministry of Justice should have fully complied with the court’s order by taking the aforementioned sum of US$113,045.00 out of the Central Bank of Liberia.

The defendant claims in their Bill of Information that the Ministry of Justice’s deliberate disregard to the court’s order to bring the sum of US$113,045.00 on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, is a demeaning and disrespectful act.

“That the act of the Ministry of Justice to intentionally ignored this court to bring the amount of US$113,045.00 on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, is an act which belittles and degrades this Honorable court as well as embarrasses this court in the administration of justice. Such an act makes it appears as though the Ministry of Justice is above the law which shows that said Ministry has no respect for the court.”

In addition, the defendant requests that the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General be called to explain why, if any, he should not be held in contempt for disobeying the court’s order from June 1, 202,3 to present the sum of US$113,045.00 to the court on Tuesday, June 13, 202,3.

To further grant Informants any relief that Justice and rights may require on the property, they added; “Made available within the next 24 hours and said receipt was issued to this court as evidence of the US$11,000.00.”

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