Judge Blamo Dixon’s Mess Samukai Up?

By: R. Joyclyn Wea

Brownie Samukai and his two deputies suspended two years jail sentence was revoked last Thursday, January 27, 2022, by the supreme court of Liberia largely because of the alleged wrongful interpretation of its mandate by Criminal Court “C” Judge Balmo Dixon.

The former Defense Minister and two other top officials of the ministry were convicted for stealing over one million United States dollars of the welfare funds belonging to soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) during the former Unity Party government.

It can be recalled, the Supreme Court in February 2021, ruled modifying the Judgment of Judge Yamie Gbeisay who presided over the matter at the time. The honorable Court in its ruling mandated the Convicts to pay 50 percent of the total of One Million One Hundred Forty-Seven Thousand Six Hundred Fifty-Six United States Dollars Thirty Five Cents( US$1,147,656.35) of the pension saving belonging to the Officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), but did not mention anything about each paying his portion of the 50% of said amount.

When the Mandate was sent down to Criminal Court “C” to resume Jurisdiction of the Matter, it was Judge Dixon in Court for that term, he still reflected on Judge Gbeisay’s earlier ruling where the defendants were requested to pay their 50% share of the money, instead of the supreme court’s modified opinion that requested the defendants to jointly restitute the full 50%.

Judge Dixon went ahead by calculating 50% of the total Money which amounted to US$573,828.15 (five hundred seventy-three thousand eight hundred twenty-eight United States Dollars, fifteen cents) and divided said amount on the three Convicts in which, each person was requested to pay One Hundred Ninety-One Thousand Two Hundred Seventy-Six Dollars Five Cent( 191,276. 05) which Samukai did.

This, the Supreme Court revoked the suspended trial on Thursday’s term as a wrongful interpretation of its mandate on grounds that contrary to Judge Dixson’s order at no time did it hold that the defendants should pay their 50% separately when they were jointly indicted, tried, and convicted.

The Supreme Court mentioned that Judge Dixon disregarded the Modified version of their ruling and dwelled on Judge Gbeisay’s judgment that was overruled, which was wrong.

“And so, the Money paid by Samukai which he considered as his 50% was considered paid by the three in the Court’s mind, for they were jointly charged, tried and convicted and that any penalty, it is joined until the Court’s Mandate is Certified,” the court held in its recent opinion.

On this basis, the supreme court claimed Brownie Samukai and his two deputies breached the conditions of their suspended sentence on grounds that they never complied with the 50% mandate given on February 8, 2021.

The law provides that where criminal defendants are jointly adjudged guilty of a crime, they are together, considered collectively responsible for any fine and or penalty until the judgment is fully satisfied.

This further demonstrates that Judge A. Blamo Dixon was clearly in error which has resulted in the supreme court sending word to the ministry of justice to have Samukai and his two officials arrested and sent to jail to serve their two years prison term while restituting the money for which they were convicted for.

“Samukai and the two others will now serve two years imprisonment and pay the full judgment amount of US$1,147,656.35, less the amount already paid by them. Upon their failure to pay, they shall remain in prison until the balance is fully liquidated at the rate of US$25.00 per month,” the court instructed.

Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the informant’s (Ministry of Justice)  bill of information is hereby granted. The Clerk of this ordered to send a mandate to the trial court to resume jurisdiction over this case and give effect to this judgment.

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