Judge Ceaineh Clinton Johnson has admitted releasing on bail two Lebanese rape convicts and two others suspected of the same crime, despite media reports putting the number higher.Rape is a non-bailable offense under the new law, but Judge Johnson, who is one of the few female judges in the country, yesterday defended her decision, blaming it on the Liberian government.According to her, the prosecution informed her that government was not interested in continuing with the cases.A Lebanese national Jaafar Bashir, 44, who was charged for raping young Liberian children within the age range of 7 and 15, was released on a US$25,000 bail by Judge Johnson.Another Lebanese, Ali Saksouk, 21, was accused of raping a 13-year old child, but he was also released on bail by Judge Johnson.Two Lebanese rape convicts, Anthony Kassabli and his father, Dib Edmond Kassabli were convicted of gang rape, but also released by Judge Johnson on bail. Anthony was released for health reasons, while his father was given executive clemency by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.However, in her charge to lawyers, judges, prospective jury and party litigants yesterday at the August 2015 opening of Criminal Courts A, B, C, D and E, Judge Johnson in a strongly worded statement said, “the press published that Lebanese nationals were the only ones who were granted bail in Court ‘E,’ but from the records of the court, out of the forty-two bails granted, only three were Lebanese nationals.”Criminal Court ‘E’ is solely responsible to hear and decide rape cases.Judge Johnson clarified that the three Lebanese were freed based upon a state application to ‘nolle prosequi’ (to waive the case), “but the news was that the court was just freeing criminals.”‘Nolle prosequi’ is an admission made by prosecution that they cannot prove the charges against the defendants, because available evidence demonstrates that an accused is innocent.The declaration can be made either before or after the start of a trial, meaning the case against the defendant will then be dropped.Further, in her charge Judge Johnson said the Criminal Court E’s decision was also based on what she considered as “change of venue.”“When a change of venue was requested and granted, newspapers reported that they will be watching the judge, who transferred the case. If they were to verify the news they would have presented the truth to the general public on the case,” she averred.She also used the occasion to advise media institutions, saying, “We know that we now have the Freedom of Information Act, but the dignity of the court will, and must at all times be respected. Any reporting that has the tendency to compromise any side of a case is prejudicial to the safety of our land.”Judge Johnson continued, “We expect you to carefully check your information, balance and or verify them from the court before reporting to the general public.”Throughout her deliberation, the female Judge did not mention the name of a particular media institution.Cautioning lawyers earlier, Judge Johnson said they, too, have a responsibility to ensure that respect is given to the courts; therefore, they should avoid unjust causes of unmeritorious reporting.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
1 Gary Rowett Gary Rowett has been sacked as manager of Championship side Birmingham City.The Blues beat Ipswich Town 2-1 on Tuesday night to move up to seventh in the table, with only goal difference keeping them out of the play-offs.But the club announced on Wednesday that they had taken the surprise decision to part company with the 42-year-old.The move comes two months after Birmingham were taken over by Chinese firm Trillion Trophy Asia Limited (TTAL), controlled by businessman Paul Suen.Birmingham director Panos Pavlakis said: “Such a parting of the ways is always difficult, particularly so on a personal level as I have worked very closely with Gary and have got to know him well. Our relationship was very strong but in football you can never stand still. “I would ask that our supporters trust our judgement and look forward to and embrace the future as we begin to implement the exciting vision of TTAL.” Rowett, who spent two years as a player at St Andrew’s, was a popular figure with supporters, who are likely to greet his departure with dismay.Appointed as manager in October 2014, he took over a Birmingham side sitting in the Championship relegation zone and led them to a tenth-place finish in his first season at the helm.Despite off-field problems, Rowett also steered the club to a tenth-place finish in the 2015/16 campaign.This term, they have won nine of their 21 matches, losing just five, to put them on course for a promotion bid.A club statement read: “This has not been an easy decision to make.“The board would like to thank Gary and his backroom staff for their efforts and wish them all the best for the future.“Gary came in and immediately stabilised the team amid difficult circumstances and during his tenure improved the club’s fortunes on the field.“He has conducted himself professionally on behalf of the club at all times and there is a genuine sadness at this course of action.“However, new owners Trillion Trophy Asia Limited (TTAL) remains determined to lead the club to a bright and exciting future. “Supporters can rest assured that the decision has been taken with a strategic, long-term view and with the club’s best interests at heart.”Rowett’s backroom staff of Kevin Summerfield, Mark Sale, Kevin Poole and Darren Robinson have also left the club with immediate effect.
This week’s episode starts with four members of the Sport magazine team picking one sporting event they could not miss in 2017.Deputy editor Alex Reid hosts as editor Tony Hodson, features editor Sarah Shepard and staff writer Charlie Morgan go through their highlights.The team touches on the upcoming Australian Open, the women’s European Championships, a compelling British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, the denouement of the Premier League season and the next steps for England’s cricket side.Next, they discuss the cover star of issue 481, sprint star Dina Asher-Smith.Then we have some passionate, expletive-punctuated thoughts on the expansion of the World Cup and finally some predictions on Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United.Subscribe to the Sport Magazine Podcast and leave a review on iTunes