Posted on November 15, 2007

Deportation Order Won’t Halt Appeal

Washington Post, November 12, 2007

Prosecutors are pressing their effort to reinstate rape and sex abuse charges against Mahamu Kanneh, even though the Montgomery County resident has been ordered deported to his native Liberia.


“The fact that he’s out of the country is not relevant to whether we should appeal it,” said Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, whose office handles appellate cases. “In our view, the issues are clear that this was wrongly decided.”

He said that overturning Circuit Court Judge Katherine D. Savage’s ruling would serve two purposes: It would create a legal precedent that could work in the state’s favor in future cases, and it would allow authorities to issue an arrest warrant for Kanneh, which could discourage him from attempting to reenter the country.


Kanneh, 23, of Rockville, was arrested in 2004 for allegedly raping and repeatedly sexually molesting a 7-year-old female relative and molesting a younger child.

His trial was postponed numerous times, primarily because court officials struggled to find an interpreter fluent in his native dialect, Vai.

Kanneh, who attended high school and community college in Montgomery, said he needed an interpreter to participate in his defense.

Savage’s ruling became national news. Kanneh moved to Philadelphia after the charges were dismissed but was arrested and returned to Montgomery after prosecutors sought to reinstate his bond. A judge subsequently released him on bond.

A few days later, immigration officials revoked his legal status as a refugee and placed him in deportation proceedings.

He was ordered deported last week.


[Editor’s Note: AR News’s story on the original dismissal can be read here.]