By Abraham S. Sollie/GNN Judicial Reporter
The Presiding Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit for Bomi County, George W. Smith, has dropped all charges levied against a Lebanese national who was at the center stage of the case involving the
15 Liberian girls who allegedly said they were trafficked into Lebanon.
The 11th Judicial Circuit for Bomi County is located in Tubmanburg, Bomi County in Liberia’s Western region.
It can be recalled that Defendant, Abbas El Debes and several others were on April 30, 2015 jointly indicted by the Grand Jury for Montserrado County for Illicit Trafficking in Human Beings and Migrant Smuggling, Gang Rape and Criminal Conspiracy in violation of Sections 14.55(1)(a) and (b) and 14.55(2); Section 14.70(2); and Section 10.4(1) and (2), respectively of the Penal law of Liberia. The case was filed to the First Judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado but was later transfer to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court via a motion for a change of venue filed by the state.
The case was heard at the court by the then Presiding Judge, William B. Sando, Jr. during which time a jury trial was held and the trial jury at the time handed down a 6-6 hanging verdict in January 2016 and a new trial was called for.
The new trial started during the February AD 2016 Term of Court and it was it the time presided over by Judge Konoi Nuta and a bench trial was prayed for by the Defendant Abbes El Debes which was granted by the court.
The granting of the new trial rendered the court t sitting as trier of both facts and the laws in the case based on a request for separate trial prayed for by the defendant on May 6, 2016.
“From the respective evidence adduced by both the prosecution and the defense, the question now is whether or not Defendant Abbas El Debes’ guilty has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain the crime he was charged with,” said Judge Smith.
Judge Smith adjudged that the court observed that principal witnesses of the state had direct personal interest in the case and because of that he said they could gave testimonies that tend to defeat their interests regarding restitution if the state had won the case.
Judge Smith added that he as a jury de facto or trier of fact in this case, he exercised great caution in giving credit and weigh to the testimonies of these interested witnesses.
He added that the failure of the state to produce the best evidence in the case, and the inconsistent testimonies created a doubt which he said operated in the interest of the Lebanese.
He noted that there was a contradiction in the testimony of private prosecutrix with name MP before the Grand Jury and her testimony in court.
The Judge furthered that the failure of the state to produce any of the persons mentioned by another private prosecutrix, GD to the Grand Jury and the court testimonies involving her recruitment to Lebanon created a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court which he said operates in favor of the defendant.
“This court says that it accepts as true Private Prosecutrix BG’s testimony that her food and bathroom were good because this testimony is consistent with and corroborates with the testimonies of defense’s three witnesses: Korpo Ballah, Grace Wrotoe and Jennebah Coleman that Lebanon was good during their house maid work in that country,” he added
The Judge then dismissed all charges against Defendant Abbas Debes due to the inconsistencies of the state witnesses’ testimonies, further ordering that he (defendant) be discharged from further detention and that his bond if he filed any before the court be returned.
He among other things ordered the court’s clerk to issue a release to serve on the Superintendent of the Bomi County Central Prison to have Defendant Abbas EL Debes released.