Judge Sando Refuses to Recuse Himself in Trafficking Case

Abbas El Debes is being held at Tubmanburg Central Prison. Photo: Zeze Ballah

TUBMANBURG, Bomi – On Friday, September 25, Judge William Sando refused to recuse himself from the human trafficking case involving fifteen Liberian girls, as requested by the defense representing Lebanese national Abbas El Debes.

Defense lawyers recently filed a motion before the court for Sando to recuse himself from the trial.

Sando said there was no evidence of bias or prejudice in any of his rulings and as such he could not recuse himself from the trial.

The decision by Sando to remain as the judge in the ongoing human trafficking trial means that the defense will now have to take their case to the Supreme Court.

According to the “motion to recuse,” the defense team, led by Cooper W. Kruah, said Sando was biased in his rulings.

The defense counsel had earlier complained to the court about the presence of armed police on the court premises, claiming they were bent on intimidating the defense counsel, witnesses, judge, jurors and court staff.

The defense further said Sando, instead of addressing the presence of armed police on the court premises, acted as if jury tampering had occurred.

“Even though there was no evidence adduced before the court relative to jury tampering, Judge Sando chose to disband 12 of the 15 empaneled jurors,” the motion to recuse read.

Sando is also yet to rule on whether the trial will be held in camera – closed to members of the public – as requested by the prosecution and resisted by the defense counsel.

 Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow.

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