Lebanese National in Trafficking Case is Hospitalized

debes (Copy)

TUBMANBURG, Bomi – The Lebanese businessman who allegedly trafficked fifteen Liberian girls to Lebanon, Abbas El Debes, has fallen ill in prison.

The defendant was charged with the crimes of illicit trafficking in human beings, migrant smuggling, gang rape and criminal conspiracy by the Republic of Liberia.

Reporters for The Bush Chicken were not able to photograph the defendant after he was transported to the hospital, but the defendant looked visibly ill and struggled to speak.

El Debes had earlier said the medical professionals assigned to treat inmates at the Tubmanburg Central Prison visited only once every two weeks.

“Whenever an inmate [suffered] from headaches and stomach pains, the nurse administered worm medicine,” El Debes said.

He said he lives on canned food because he is unaccustomed to eating the beans that are typically prepared for inmates at the prison.

El Debes said that he would take legal action against the government of Liberia over the lack of proper treatment for his worsening health condition.

Attorney Arthur Tamba Johnson, who represents El Debes, said, “Abbas is dying slowly as there is no specialized doctor in Bomi County to treat him of his kidney, pressure, and sugar problems.”

Attorney Arthur Tamba Johnson, Defense Lawyer for Abbas El Debes. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Attorney Arthur Tamba Johnson, Defense Lawyer for Abbas El Debes. Photo: Zeze Ballah

He noted that Judge William Sando rejected all of the motions filed on behalf of their client to have him on bail or relocated to the Monrovia Central Prison where he would meet his doctor regularly.

“During the defense counsel’s visit to the hospital, we were told by nurses treating Abbas that he was suffering from malaria and infection,” Attorney Johnson said.

He added that the defense counsel was given a prescription by the nurses to purchase the needed medicine from Monrovia for the client.

Johnson contended that the care his client is receiving was not adequate. “This is an issue of a specialized nature in the area of the medical treatment for people with such illnesses,” he added.

Johnson further said the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia allows an accused person certain provisions when sick especially with life-threatening illnesses. He said the court in which said accused is being tried should allow the person to be placed on supervised bail pending the determination of the trial.

Featured photo of defendant Abbas El Debes before falling ill. Credit: 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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