By Brian Okoth
The Liberian government has lost a case in which it was seeking to overturn a ruling that acquitted four drug trafficking suspects.
The Supreme Court of Liberia ruled on Friday that the suspects were procedurally freed.
Malam Conte, Abdulai Djalo, Makki Issam and Oliver Zayzay had been accused of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
The government, through Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, had said that the four were caught “red-handed” claiming ownership of an illegal consignment that had arrived in Monrovia from Brazil in October 2022.
The consignment – 520 kilogrammes of cocaine worth $100 million – had been shipped into Liberia via the sea.
“The suspects attempted to take ownership of the container holding the illicit drugs by seeking to bribe the businessman housing the container,” Musah said on May 20.
The government claimed that the amount of bribe that had been offered was $200,000, which was later reviewed upwards to $1 million.
Upon arresting the suspects in October, the prosecution arraigned the four before a 12-member jury that acquitted the accused over lack of sufficient evidence.
Eleven out of the 12 members of the jury ruled that the evidence produced in court by the prosecution was too weak to warrant the jailing of the four.
The jury said all the charges – drug trafficking, money laundering and criminal conspiracy – were not proved beyond any reasonable doubt.
Aggrieved by the lower court’s ruling, the prosecution moved to the Supreme Court to file an appeal.
On Friday, the apex court upheld the lower court’s verdict that acquitted the four suspects.
Drug trafficking is a serious offence in Liberia that can attract life imprisonment.