BUCHANAN (LINA) – Following months of legal proceedings, seven defendants involved in the alleged witchcraft and torture case in Sinoe County have been declared guilty by Jurors at the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County.
But, immediately the jury decision was announced, defence counsel Paul Phillip Jarvan took exception, and said he will file a motion of retrial and subsequently take an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia after the court’s final ruling.
Ten of the twelve jurors on Friday, August 30, signed in affirmative to the verdict against the seven individuals, while two jurors expressed dissenting opinions.
The seven persons found guilty include Moses Solo, Teah Gmawlue, Sylvester Charty, Dennis P. Pyne, Victor Solo, Tweh Kelgbeh and Alex Karpeh.
The defendants are workers of Golden Veroleum Liberia, who claimed that the situation has rendered them unemployed, causing their families to experience hardship.
Prior to the case, of the ten suspects earlier brought to Buchanan from Sinoe County, the State lawyers led by Cllr. Wesseh Alphonsus Wesseh, Assistant Minister for Litigation entered a plea of Nolle Prosequi, for lack of sufficient evidence in favor of three co-defendants namely, Marshall Gbala, Anthony Karmoh and Swen Pyne while the rest were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the multiple indictments, thereby joining issues with the government.
The defendants, all of whom are male, are declared guilty for multiple charges of murder, gang rape, aggravated assault, and criminal facilitation in connection to the humiliation of three ladies accused of witchcraft activities in Sinoe that resulted to the death of one of the females.
The defendants’ legal interest was represented by Public Defender of Grand Bassa, Cllr. Paul Philip Javan, while the County Attorney of Grand Bassa, Cllr. Parto Jabbah and the Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh played the prosecuting role for the government.
The hearing was at the Upper Buchanan 2nd Judicial Circuit Court with15 jurors sitting before the Resident Judge, Joe S. Barkon.
The popular “witchcraft case” in Nuampo-Johnny Town, Gbahyen Statutory District in Sinoe County, was transferred from Greenville to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County for trial in June 2019.
The three ladies, it can be recalled, were arrested by some locals in the town of Nuampo on December 12, 2018, stripped naked, paraded on the streets and beaten.
One of the women identified as Willette Nyenwlah later died from injuries sustained.
They were indicted early this year by the Grand Jury of the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court in Greenville, the provincial capital of Sinoe County.
The transfer of the trial to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Buchanan was in response to a request made by the Prosecution, who claimed that trying the defendants in Greenville, Sinoe County could spark local prejudice that could hamper the judicial proceeding.
Meanwhile, the final ruling into the matter is expected this Tuesday.