Editorial: Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, Alice Johnson, Gertrude Newton And Rebecca Youdeh Wisner’s Constitutional Rights To A Speedy And Fair Trial

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ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2023, the prosecution filed a second motion for a Change of Place/Venue in the trial of Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, Gertrude Newton, Rebecca Youdeh Wisner and Alice Johnson. The government, through the Ministry of Justice, had earlier filed a motion for change of venue to relocate the murder trial of Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott and others from Monrovia to a nearby county, citing fear of local prejudice due to huge public sentiment. The government said there are reasons to believe that an impartial trial cannot be possible within this jurisdiction (Montserrado County), where the aforesaid prosecution/trial is pending.

FOLLOWING THE WITHDRAWAL of the first change of venue petition, several legal pundits following the case began to opine that to constitute justification for a change of venue the below listed factual issues should, among other things, be present: threats to the defendants in a manner that should be addressed to avoid harm to their persons; a demonstration of hostile environment that should be addressed by the court to avoid harm to the defendants.

THE ABOVE LISTED concerns, they have observed, are not, or may not be, available to the state as it is in charge of the air space, land and water miles as well as security of the territorial enclave of the Republic. They argued that it has not been proved that the defendants in this case are secured by the planned change of venue request by the state, and that the change of venue petition appeared pretentious probably to mislead the court to exercise its discretion and authority unjustly, which will effectively permit the defendants’ Constitutional rights to a speedy and fair trial.

NOW, IN LESS than a month after they withdrew the first petition for change of venue, government lawyers have again run to the court to refile the petition at a time it is widely expected that a full trial of the murder case would have started on Monday, August 28, 2023. The government’s latest (second) motion for change of venue was surprisingly filed on Friday, August 25, 2023, citing the very reasons for which the first petition was filed.

THIS LATEST ACTION by the state has not gone unnoticed by many interested parties, including the spokesperson of the Musu family, Nathaniel Toe, who described it as delay tactics intended to unnecessarily prolong the case and keep the defendants languishing in jail without the necessary and required speedy trial.

TOE SAID THE family is painfully following the developments surrounding the case, praying and hoping for nothing less than the required due process and speedy trial as in keeping with law.

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