MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Ministry of Justice has filed a motion to Criminal Court E to release 23 alleged rapists from the Monrovia Central Prison.
The ministry’s motion was filed on March 23 to voluntarily drop the charges based on the complainants’ continued failure to pursue the cases before the court.
In the motion, prosecutors indicated that all effort exerted to locate witnesses to appear before the court and testify against the defendants have not materialized; therefore, they have filed the motion to release the defendants, some of whom have spent up to seven years in detention.
The 23 defendants expected to be released have been identified as: Edwin Forkpah, Ballah Garrison, Mulbah Mendan, Cyrus Williams, Varney Williams, Nelson Binda, Saturday Wennie, Ujay Joe, Patrick Sieh, among others.
The Criminal Procedure Law gives the court the authority to dismiss charges against defendants who have not been tried after two or more terms of court after the defendants have been indicted.
Another motivation for the ministry’s motion is to help reduce the crowded state of the Monrovia Central Prison, which was originally built for 700 inmates but now holds more than 1,000 inmates – half of which are pre-trial detainees, according to a 2018 report by prison authorities.
One of prosecution lawyers, Cllr. Jallah Zumo, described the government’s action as a positive step in reducing pre-trial detainees at various prison facilities.
“The ministry’s motion will help to reduce court’s docket and ensure that judges [can] be able to clear their docket within the court term,” he added.
Zumo said the Justice Ministry needs to look into other abandoned cases across the country to fight against illegal pre-trial detentions.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah