-Over Unlawful Visit To Jury Quarter in Charloe Musu’s Murder Trial.
The pro-democracy group, Independent Civil Society Union of Liberia (ICSUL), has welcomed the mandate of the Supreme Court for a full-scale investigation into alleged attempt to tamper with the jurors hearing the murder case involving Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three others.
In the ongoing landmark murder trial, Criminal Court ‘A’ Judge, Roosevelt Z. Willie recently suspended Solicitor General, Cllr. Nyanti Tuan and fined him US$250 (Two Hundred Fifty United States Dollars) for attempting to tamper with the trial jurors who are sequestered at the Temple of Justice.
The court imposed the punishment on Cllr. Tuan on Monday, September 18, 2023, after an earlier investigation conducted over claims that he visited the quarter of the Sequestered Trial Jurors during odd hours (around 8:00PM), on September 13, 2023, as reported by the Security of the Judiciary on September 15, 2023.
The Deputy Minister of Justice for Legal Affairs and Solicitor General, Nyanti Tuan is said to have entered the premises of the Temple of Justice at 8:00PM on September 13, 2023, and interacted with the police officers assigned at the Jury Quarter.
Following the reading of othe investigation report by the Jury Management and Judiciary Security in the Chamber of Criminal Court ‘A’ Judge, Roosevelt Z. Willie on Monday, September 18, 2023, Cllr. Tuan was slapped with suspension from the murder trial and fined US$250.00 to be paid in three days from the day the fine was imposed.
The Solicitor General, in response, admitted visiting the Temple of Justice along with some officers of the Liberia National Police on the day and date mentioned in the report, but argued that it was around 5:00PM and not 8:00PM as mentioned in the report.
The initial action taken by Judge Willie, in the view of defense lawyers, apparently did not commensurate with the gravity of the offense committed by the Solicitor General, something which triggered a petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed before Justice In Chamber, Jamesetta Howard Wolokolie to review and/or reverse the Judge’s handling of the matter.
Following a conference on Monday, September 25, 2023, Chamber Justice Wolokolie instructed Judge Willie to conduct a full-scale investigation into the matter for appropriate actions.
Shortly after the Chamber Justice’s instruction was issued, the Independent Civil Society Union of Liberia termed the decision as welcoming and one that could go a long way in reversing yet another potential dark image and embarrassment for the legal and justice system of Liberia, considering the gravity of what Cllr. Nyanti Tuan has done.
The group maintained that the murder trial involving the former Chief Justice has attracted serious interest both locally and internationally and as such, nothing less than fair trial is expected.
ICSUL added that there have been numerous accounts and allegations of jury tampering and other discrepancies involving actors in the justice system over the years, something which makes it even more imperative to get to the bottom of this latest alleged jury tampering attempt.
The civil society group cited among other past cases, the treason trial of the late Gen. Charles Julu and Col. Andrew Dorbor of the defunct Armed Forces in 2007, when there were rumors and speculations of jury tampering and eventually a controversial guilty verdict brought down by the jurors, obviously contradicting the evidence presented in the Criminal Court ‘A’, presided over then by the late Judge Charles K. Williams.
This situation caused the Supreme Court to order a retrial by Judge Peter Gbenewelleh, who announced a not guilty verdict in favor of Julu and Dorbor following the second trial which was a bench trial (no jury).
Meanwhile, the civil society group is calling on all parties to the case, local and international justice support groups, as well as international partners to pay key attention to the case as Liberians go to the polls in October this year to vote in major elections, from which there could be many court disputes as has always been the case.
If the full-scale investigation as ordered by the Supreme Court, is conducted and finds the Solicitor General guilty, it could be a defining moment in this landmark case, as a guilty report, according to legal pundits, could lead to a harsher punishment against Cllr. Tuan, and a possible disbandment of the jury.