By Ora Garway
The alleged rape case involving study class teacher Nathaniel, 39 and his two years old student, was yesterday transferred to the Criminal Assizes Court at the Temple of Justice for prosecution after state lawyers filed a motion.
At the call of the case yesterday at the Magisterial Court at the Temple of Justice presided over by Magistrate Nelson Chineh, state lawyers informed the court about a new statute enacted by the National Legislature and printed into handbill which prohibits the magisterial court from conducting cases involving sexual offenses.
Prosecution contended that the magisterial court lacks jurisdiction over the said matter. Atty. Tamba Gborie one of the state lawyers said, “there is law which stops you from further proceeding into this matter, Section 25.3 of the New Rape Law stops you, that is not a law made by the Justice Ministry, but rather the National Legislature. All we are saying to you is to instruct the clerk to file all the records of this case to the Circuit Court, refuse probing into the matter; the law is saying you should not proceed”.
The state lawyers later called on the magistrate to rescind his earlier decision where he granted a request by the defendant for preliminary examination. During the last sitting, prosecution commenced with the production of evidence in camera. They produced two witnesses and requested for continuance of the matter to yesterday.
But the defense team heavily contended that Section 12.2 of the Criminal Procedure Law that gives the defendant the right to request for preliminary examination has not been repealed, and as such, prosecution cannot move the court to ignore such statutory provision, when the state has already submitted for preliminary examination.
In his ruling, Magistrate Chineh said it is the opinion that the court has the authority to correct its earlier ruling. He said, “whether or not where there are two statutes touching on the same issue, and it appears that there seems to be contradiction in either of the requirement, which one takes precedence, in the mind of the court, we are of the opinion that it is the most recent one. This court has no power to consider or investigate the legislature of the framer of the law”.
He thereby ordered the clerk of court to file all records of the alleged rape case for onward transmission to the office of the clerk of Criminal Assizes, the court with the oversight responsibility to prosecute all rape cases. The Criminal Court “E” is the new Court to hear all gender based violence cases. There are reports that the court will have two judges. One of the Judges has already been appointed and commissioned.
It is not known as to how long prosecution would take to have the accused indicted before the opening of the new court. The accused has since pleaded not guilty.