Monrovia – Monrovia City Court Judge Jomah Jallah on Thursday denied request from defense team, to grant Alternative National Congress Political Leader Alexander B. Cummings brief absence from the ongoing criminal proceedings that linked him and his ANC alleged Forgery and Criminal Conspiracy emanating from the alleged alteration of the Collaborating Political Parties Framework Document.
Cummings has continuously denied forging the signatures of the All Liberian Party Chairman and Political Leader as alleged by them.
During Thursday’s proceeding, the defense team requested the court to grant Defendant Cummings the right to exercise voluntary absence for the continuation of the proceedings and in accordance with Section 2.4 Subsection 2 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which grants the defendant right to voluntary absence.
Cllr. Abrahim Sillah, defending his client on Thursday noted that the presence of Cummings at the court will obviously attract a huge presence of the public to the proceedings, which he said was evidenced by what transpired during a tension that left four officers injured, prior to the start of Thursday proceeding.
“Counsel says in order to advert the recurrence of these kind of situation, which could sometimes be unavoidable, the defendants beg leave of court, while the matter proceeds in the manner and form required by Section 2.4, subsection 2, of the Criminal Procedure Law,” Cllr. Sillah requested.
The defense team further argued that the exercise of the defendants’ rights is in he best interest of the state and the harmony of the proceedings. He stressed that it will release the state from burden of employing a huge amount of security presence that may be required for crowd control and relieve the state of much-needed resources that could be spent under the circumstance.
Additionally, Defense team further reminded the court to take notice of Government of Liberia’s regulations imposed by MOH on COVID-19, relating to overcrowdedness saying, tye absence of Mr. Cummings will decongest the court.
“The request is not intended to in anyway avoid the hearing of these proceedings and or to invade the guarantee provided by the Criminal Appearance Bond, but intended to ensure that the matter is speedily heard and disposed of without hindrance of what is required,” Defense noted.
But Government Prosecutors took exception to the defense’s argument on grounds that the object and purpose of Section 2.4 of the Criminal Procedure law instructs that a criminal defendant shall be present in court at every period of time of the case, unless there is a motion which clearly states why the defendant should not be present.
Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus countering the defense motion said there is no legal basis that warrants the defendants’ brief absence in the proceeding, thereby requesting the court to deny and dismiss the motion from defendant.
According to Cllr. Cephus, the action of people invading the court and causing mayhem was premeditated either through a directive by defendant and should not be used as grounds for defendant absence during trial.