Convicted Felon?

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The Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, has written the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to certify Brownie J. Samukai to stand as a candidate in the up-coming senatorial election in Lofa County.

    SG Cephus has told the NEC that Samukai, who is expected to contest on the ticket of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), is being entangled in a controversy of claims and counterclaims, with respect to whether he is a convict for financial fraud, economic sabotage, criminal sabotage, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money and theft of property or not.

    In a communication addressed to the NEC, dated October 26, 2020, Solicitor General Cephus said that a careful review of their records shows that Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., Joseph P. Johnson and Nyumah Dorkor were duly indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced, and were ordered to restitute the amounts US$687,656.35 and US$460,000, respectively, for the commission of theft of property, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money and money laundering by Criminal Court “C”, Temple of Justice.

   According to him, Judge Yami Quiqui Gbeisay presided over the trial, and during the final rendition of judgement defendants, now convicts, Samukai, Johnson and Dorkor excepted to the judgement and announced an appeal and perfected the appeal process; thus, the enforcement of the penalty of their criminal conviction in the court is automatically stayed.

    The Solicitor General letter noted, “However, what must be noted here is that, because the crimes for which defendants Samukai, Johnson and Dorkor were tried and convicted are all bailable offenses, this is why they are out on bail pending the final determination of their appeal before the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia. This being the case, the appeal is legally limited to, or effectively bars the enforcement of penalty of the conviction and sentencing, but does not return the convicts, as in the case of defendant Brownie Samukai, to a situation of a status quo ante, as it is being erroneously construed.

   “The principle of law regarding conviction in Liberia instructs that, if a person commits, for instance, a bailable or non-bailable capital offense, say, murder, treason or rape, and is tried and convicted, and if he/she announces an appeal, that person remains a convict, and will be behind bars while the appeal process is being perfected. The announcement of an appeal by a convict in our criminal jurisprudence, either for bailable or non-bailable offense, does not return the defendant to a status quo ante, and does not remove or deface the records that she/he is not a convict in the court below.”

   The letter continued, “Besides, it may interest you to know that Brownie J. Samukai is not in prison because the crimes he was accused of committing along with other convicts, and for which they were duly tried, convicted and sentenced are all bailable offenses. The argument that what will happen if convict Samukai wins the appeal process before the Supreme Court is audacious and has no basis in law and therefore should not be encouraged or entertained.

   “Finally, Mr. Samukai is, and remains, a convict for reasons stated inter alia, and the question of why Chapter 3, Section 3.23 of the New Elections Law has not taken effect with the publication of the names of convicts tends to beg the issue on grounds that the publication of the list of convicts referred to is done in December, and not in October.

   “In light of that, we believe that any statement made before the commission by Mr. Samukai in denying that he has not been tried and convicted of any crimes will constitute a perjury, and a solid ground for his immediate disqualification from any electoral process.”

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