Jury Trial for Russian Ship Owner Begins Today
The NEWS (Monrovia)
January 31, 2005
Posted to the web January 31, 2005
The Civil Law Court begins hearing today, January 31, into a jury trial involving a Russian ship owner of the M.V. Zolotitsa, Gennady P. Medvedev, and the National Port of Authority (NPA).
Presiding Judge Yussif Kaba, reassigned the trial Monday following the selection of a 12-man empanelled jury last week by lawyers representing Mr. Medvedev and the NPA.
The trial was postponed a week earlier after the judge informed the two parties that he was ill. When he recovered, Judge Kaba ordered proceedings to begin with the selection of the 12-man jury, which has been charged to return a unanimous verdict.
The case between the Russian national and the NPA started on March 8, 2001, when he filed a Petition for a Writ of Replevin against the NPA for seizing his ship and using same, much to his detriment.
Judge Winston O. Henries, at the time presiding as judge of the Civil Law Court, ordered the Clerk to place a clause in the said Writ of Replevin; directing the Sheriff to have Respondents/NPA identify the ship to be replevined and be brought before the court.
In the instant case, however, the Respondent declined to appear before the judge. Not pleased, Mr. Medvedev filed an action of Damages for Wrong on July 18, 2002 at the same court.
He alleged that the NPA was using his vessel referred to as "Zolotitsa," as a transport and commercial vessel between Harper and Monrovia to benefit NPA. The Russian ship owner also requested the court to grant general damages in the amount of US$2,000,000.00.
Lawyers representing the NPA denied responsibility for the vessel. They also contended that NPA did not impound the vessel for non-payment of port tax at the Freeport of Monrovia, but rather that the NPA has a berth claim of US$190,000.00.
Judge Henries, having listened to arguments from both parties, said after careful review of the records of the case, the court found it to be a mixture of law and facts, henceforth, he ordered that the case be ruled to trial by jury.