The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Several Injured At
Cummings Criminal Hearing
…As Court Denies Request For Voluntary Absence

By Grace Q. Bryant
The Monrovia City Court has denied the Alternative National Congress’ (ANC) political leader, Alexander Cummings, voluntary absence from the ongoing criminal proceedings.
Defendant Cummings was linked to Forgery and Criminal Conspiracy by the All Liberian Party (ALP) for allegedly altering the Collaborating Political Parties’ (CPP) Framework Document.
Judge Jomah Jallah’s decision came yesterday during the trial when the defense team headed by Cllr. Abrahim Sillah requested the court to grant defendant Cummings the right to voluntary absence during the continuation of the proceedings.
The defense counsel cited Section 2.4 Subsection 2 of the Criminal Procedure Law that grants the defendant the right to voluntary absence noting that the presence of Cummings at the court will obviously attract a huge presence of the public to the proceedings.
The defense team further argued that the exercise of the defendant’s rights is in the best interest of the state and the harmony of the proceedings, stressing that it will relief the state of the burden of employing a huge number of security presence that may be required for crowd control and relieve the state of much needed resources that could be spent under the circumstance.
The defense team further reminded the court to take notice of the government’s regulations imposed by the Ministry of Health on COVID-19 relating to over-crowdedness stating that the absence of Mr. Cummings will also decongest the court.
“The request is not intended to in anyway avoid the hearing into these proceedings and or to invade the guarantee provided by the Criminal Appearance Bond but, it is intended to ensure that the matter is speedily heard and disposed of without hindrance,” the defense team reiterated.
However, prosecution argued that the object and purpose of Section 2.4 of the Criminal Procedure law instructs that a criminal defendant shall be present in court at every period of time of the case, unless there is a motion which clearly states why the defendant should not be present.
Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus countering the defense’s motion said there is no legal basis that warrants the defendant’s brief absence in the proceeding, thereby requesting the court to deny and dismiss the defendant’s motion.
According to Cllr. Cephus, the action of people invading the court and causing mayhem was premeditated either through a directive by the defendant and should not be used as grounds for defendant’s absence during trial.
“Either the defendant directed or instructed the unruly crowd to instigate such action and it is on behalf of the defendant the crowd acted; as such, the defendant shall remained present until the end of the matter,” Cllr. Cephus said.
Following argument from both parties, the Monrovia City Court Presiding Judge, Jomah Jallah adjuged that will be a reversible error to grant the defendant brief absence when in fact, the defendant has not pleaded to the writ as to whether he is guilty or not; thereby denying the motion made by the defendant.
At the same time, Judge Jallah granted prosecution’s request to include two other parties to the writ and they included the ANC Chairperson, Senator Daniel Naatehn and Secretary General Aloysius Toe into the matter.
Quoting 14.7 of the Criminal Procedure Law, Title 2, Cllr. Cephus craved the court’s indulgence to ensure that all of those included in the writ are brought before the court in line with the legal authority granted the state to amend in any stage of the proceeding.

Defense did not take exception, thus providing a ground for Judge Jallah to grant prosecution’s request to amend and ordered the clerk to include Toe and Naateh as defendants in the matter at bar with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, some individuals believed to be personal security to the Liberty Party Chairperson, Musa Hassan Bility meted injuries on several court officers at the Monrovia city Court.
Those Injury are Charles Bloyefleh, Bailiff of the Monrovia City Court, Francis Armah, Officer of the Liberia National Police assigned at the Court, Victoria Davis, Officer of the Monrovia City Police and Patience Kollie of the Liberia National Police.
The officers were rush at a local medical center where they were believed to be undergoing attention.
The Temple of Justice witness several supporters of the ANC and LP were seen chanting political slogans as well as anti-justice slogans which later turned into chaos but was placed under control by the Police Support Unit (PSU).

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