Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Court Acquits Journalist Jarkloh of Rape, Sodomy Charges
... Nolle Prosequoi Filed

06/10/08 - FPA Staff Report

Monrovia -

Prosecuting lawyers for the Liberian government in the Rape case - Bill Jarkloh Vs. Republic of Liberia - have entered a Plea Of “Nolle Prosequoi” thus clearing Journalist Bill Jarkloh all the charges of rape and sodomy brought against him recently by the family of a 8 years old child.

The Plea Of “Nolle Prosequoi” followed journalist Jarkloh pleaded for his temporary release from prison based on the lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Free for now: Journalist Bill Jarkloh

On May 13, Journalist Jarkloh was issued a writ of arrest by the Monrovia City Court for allegedly committing rape and sodomy as was claimed by mother of an eight-year old girl, Janjay who said the crime took place at Bill's Perry Street residence.

However, such plea allows prosecution the time to reserve the right to re-file the case should the need arise in keeping with section 18.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law. The Assistant County Attorney, Witness Doyen, last Friday filed a plea of “nolle prosequoi” without prejudice before the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice after the case had been scheduled for preliminary hearings on the same day.

A nolle prosequi may be entered either in a criminal or a civil case. In criminal cases, a nolle prosequi may be entered at any time before the finding of the grand jury, and generally after a true bill has been found. No nolle prosequi can also be entered after a bill has been found, without leave of the court, except in cases of assault and battery, fornication and bastardy, on agreement between the parties, or in prosecutions for keeping tippling houses.

A nolle prosequi may be entered as to one or several defendants. The effect of a nolle prosequi, when obtained, is to release the defendant without day, but it does not operate as an acquittal; for he may be afterwards reindicted, and even upon the same indictment, fresh process may be awarded.

Journalist Jarkloh had since expressed his innocence but family members of the survivor are still protesting that the minor did identify Bill as the doer of the crime. Hearings into the case had been experiencing hitches since it was first issued a notice of assignment which was scheduled by the court on May 27, 2008 due to what the defense lawyer cited as no police charge sheet’ to serve as the court’s document that should indict the accused.

Meanwhile, according to the law, a case wherein the proof is not evident and presumption is not grave, the suspect can be set free either on bail or the prosecution can nolle prosequoi the case, requesting time to gather all evidence thereby evoking section 18.1 of the criminal procedure law.

No conclusion yet, prosecutors say

But for the case of rape which is nonbaillable, prosecution says such plea gives them the right to request for time so as to inquire from the police regarding the report of the full scale investigation earlier conducted into Bill’s case. Police has already reported to state prosecutors with the name of Journalist Jarkloh mentioned nowhere in it. It instead linked one Lincoln who ploice quoted Love as saying raped her in a video club in the night.

Prosecution further said that the case has not yetreached its conclusion therefore they have advised the aggrieved party to appear today to continue the process of first establishing who the suspect is and to sort out other new evidence if possible.

The case was issued a notice of assignment over four times by the Monrovia City Court under the gavel of Associate Magistrate Wondah Sondah but because of the court’s failure to begin said hearings, the defense prayed that the case be transferred to an upper court that has similar jurisdiction over said matters.

The case was turned over to Court “B” under the gavel of Judge Evelyna Quaqua who also scheduled the case for last Friday at which time she was expected to give ruling since the prosecution had earlier informed the City Court that there was no sufficient court document to prosecute the case.

But to the dismay of both parties, the Court ‘B’ Judge could not appear at the time set to call the case while the parties waited in the court room. When reporters engaged her in her chambers, she told them that she had decided to reserve her ruling due to her personal judgment which is in the interest of both parties and that she was awaiting orders.

The defense lawyer, apparently, out of patience that his client would have spent another weekend in prison based on Judge Quaqua’s decision returned the case to the City Court where prosecution was granted the right to evoke section 18.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Meanwhile, Jarkloh, since his release from prison has continued to profess his innocence of the charges.

Maintaining innocence

"The fact remains that “I am innocent, and I am being humiliated by a conspiracy masterminded and championed by Sorbor George”, a reporter of Star Radio in Monrovia. Mr. George and I lived in the same building but in separate apartments. Besides, he said, “the conspiracy against him is also being masterminded by officials of the court," Jarkloh told FrontPageAfrica Tuesday.

Jarkloh says that the Magistrate was instructed by someone at the helm of power, the Chief Justice of Liberia, to deny him and his fiancée Korpo S. Kortimai, a daughter of former deputy Commerce Minister Professor Lavela B. Kortimai bail because "he and enemies of progress want Korpo and I to be brought to the South Beach together disgraced for a good we did. But God says “the truth that is buried shall rise again,” Jarkloh added.

Jarkloh says the crux of the matter is that one Janjay, said to be a mother of eight-year-old “Tenesee” (Love) Samuels abandoned Love for more than one month and chased her out of their residence. "This minor was sleeping in street corners, video clubs and under market stalls. Love told Korpo, human right activist/personnel, how one Lincoln had abused her at a video club in the middle of the night."

Thereafter, he said, a lady rescued her and turned her over to Korpo as people in the community usually do when an abandoned or abused child was found. "Korpo Kortimai, as usual, took “Love” to Love’s “mother” Janjay but Janjay told Korpo that because she Janjay didn’t want Love to run from the house again, (Korpo) should keep the child and counsel her. But looking at the poor health situation, Korpo had reported this minor to the Women and Children Protection Unit of the LNP (Central). Love was processed at the police Headquarters and taken to a “Safe Home," Jarkloh says. But a week later, according to Jarkloh, Janjay started to grumble Korpo to see the “Safe Home”, apparently thinking that sending Love there is for pecuniary gain to Korpo and her household. And because there are already envious people in the community that Korpo and I live, they have now connived; saying that my charming spouse, Korpo, “kidnapped” Love while I raped and sodomized the little girl.

Jarkloh alleges that the police investigation regarding the abandonment and raping of Love was ignored for whatsoever interest to order the issuance of a writ of arrest against him for “SODOMY/RAPE” without a police charge sheet; at the same time, warning Attorney Doyen who is insisting on outcome of police investigation to keep off the matter. "Instead, Justice Johnnie Lewis said he preferred Attorney Sam T. Solomon to use Janjay and my enemies to incarcerate me at the Monrovia Central Prison (South Beach) without the police report on the case and medical documents (report) to establish their claims against me."

Looking back on the ordeal, Jarkloh laments that a good deed turned into a personal tragedy. "My fiancée and I have been good to Love and her mother. Unfortunately, our kindness has turned into bad and we are being paid with false charges just to destroy our hard earned reputation and characters."

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