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Former human trafficking indictee sues gov’t over business deal

Liberian Observer/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.
Flash back: Debes (center) being escorted back to his prison cell in Tubmanburg, Bomi County during the trial.
Flash back: Debes (center) being escorted back to his prison cell in Tubmanburg, Bomi County during the trial.

It has been nearly two years since then Judge George Smith of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, cleared a Lebanese businessman, identified as Abbas Debes, of multiple crimes including illicit trafficking of human beings on grounds that at the time state lawyers were not licensed and lacked direct evidence for the case.

Prior to his trial, Debes was general manager of a photo studio and printing press.

Debes is now requesting for a stay order preventing the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) from printing the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Permits and re-entry Permits.
His request comes when the Liberian government is now making preparation for the burial of former LIS Commissioner Cllr. Lemuel Reeves, who Debes sued in court.

Debes, whose “Action of Damages for Breach of Contract” lawsuit is yet to be heard by the Civil Law Court “A” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, sought Judge Yussif Kaba’s approval to compel the government to pay indemnity bond of US$375,000.

“LIS Commissioner Lemuel Reeves (now deceased) and all person or persons acting directly or indirectly under their supervision, temporarily prohibiting, restraining and enjoining them from carrying out any printing of the ECOWAS’ Permits and re-entry Permits to be used by the Government of Liberia (GoL) as a result of the Action of Damages for Breach of Contract before the court, or until further orders from the court,” Debe’s request for injunction and preliminary restraining order, stated.

The lawsuit also involved Universal Printing Press, which Debes has claimed that Commissioner Reeves entered into the printing of the ECOWAS’ Permits and re-entry Permits.

It can be recalled that Debes was indicted, along with co-defendants Bashir Al Lakis, Ghazi Bashar, Hayah Debes, all Lebanese nationals, and Richard Dickson Tamba for their alleged involvement in trafficking 14 young Liberian girls to Lebanon between 2011 and 2013.

Other charges against Debes at the time included migrant smuggling, gang rape and criminal conspiracy for his alleged role in trafficking the 14 Liberian girls to Lebanon through the Roberts International Airport (RIA), purposely for exploitation, through deception and abuse.

Defendant Debes, according to the indictment, is believed to have conspired with co-defendant Richard Tamba to carry out the transactions regarding the girls, and purposely placed them in danger of forced slavery, sexual assault, and rape.

The court’s record also stated that the girls were placed under the impression that they were going to be employed in supermarkets, restaurants, and also serves as secretaries in Lebanon, and would be paid between US$200 and US$250 per month, with the understanding of going to school there.

The indictment said upon the arrival of the Liberian women in Lebanon, co-defendants Ghazi Bashar and Bashir Lakis allegedly took their passports and distributed the girls to various family homes for US$3,500 apiece and pocketed the proceeds

 


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