Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Liberia: Judge to Rule in Sable Mining Bribery Case on July 30


At long last, the Sable Mining bribery case involving key former and current government officials that have been dragged based on legal wrangling for over three years will come to an end on July 30, 2019, a date set for a final ruling.

Judge Peter Gbeneweleh announced to the parties on Monday, July 22, the date of the judgment after final arguments between prosecution and the Defense counsels in what was a two-month trial that commenced during the August 2019 Term based on a Supreme Court’s mandate.

The case, which surfaced before the court in 2017, was adjourned after the prosecution rejected former Judge Yarmie Gbeisay’s ruling to temporarily accept its e-mail evidence from South Africa until the witness can come before the court to testify and appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled and rejected Judge Gbeisay’s ruling as being strange in the law practice in the country and ordered the case to immediately resumed.

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Read MoreLiberia: Sable Mining Bribery Defendants, Others Set for Final Argument

“Final ruling is now scheduled for Tuesday, July 30, 2019, at the hour of 2:00 Pm since all parties in court, this should serve as a notice of assignment,” said Judge Gbeneweleh.

At Monday’s final arguments the prosecution led by Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation Cllr. Wesseh Alphonso Wesseh assisted by Director of Financial Crimes Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo stated that the prosecution presented 63 material and documentary pieces of evidence as well as two rebuttal witnesses.

Out of the prosecution 63 evidence, most are material evidence that were obtained in South Africa from Sable Mining executives, identified as Heine Vans Niekerk and Paul O. Sullivan, a forensic investigator based in that country.

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The evidence is mostly e-mails that allegedly were exchanged between Sable Mining Africa Country Director Van Niekerk and co-defendant Varney Sherman.

Read MoreLiberia: Former President Sirleaf Subpoenaed to Testify in Sable Mining Bribery Case

They were obtained by the Presidential Task Force set-up by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf headed by now Grand Kru County Representative Fonati Kofa.

These pieces of evidence, according to the prosecution, proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt to bring down a ruling against the Defendants for economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, facilitation, and solicitation.

“Your honor, prosecution requests this court to take into consideration its legal citation, memorandum, evidence in this case of economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, facilitation, and solicitation and make determination,” said Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo in his closing the argument.

Cllr. Cyril Jones, who represents Sherman, E.C.B Jones, Eugene Shannon, Richard Tolbert, and Willie Belleh, counter-argued and requested the court to not hold the Defendants liable because the prosecution did not show any tangible evidence in the case to convict the defendants.

Cllr. Jones argued that the prosecution alleged that Cllr. Sherman received a bribe to influence government officials to change the PPCC 2005 Act from the Global Witness and charged him and others with economic sabotage and bribery without showing any evidence of how the law was changed.

Cllr. Jones added that when someone is charged with economic sabotage, that money in question should be public fund, not private fund as alleged by the prosecution and that the e-mail in question linking Sherman to bribery did not meet any legal means.

According to Jones, the Global Witness Report, which the prosecution has relied upon to indict the Defendants, is a non-governmental organization that is in London accusing the country and prominent individuals as the way of obtaining funding to run the organization.

Read MoreLiberia: Director of the National Housing Authority Imprisoned for Alleged Bribery

He, therefore, called on the court not take seriously accusation that is without proof.

“Your honor the Defendants are not liable of these charges because the allegations made are from hearsay witnesses who came before this court to testify without any knowledge of the case,” Cllr. Jones.

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Cllr. Johnny Momoh who represented former House Speaker Alex Tyler told the court that the prosecution failed to prove its own indictment.

“Your honor, the prosecution says the PPCC  Law was changed without bringing in the change law. It was the Defense that brought both the draft and the amended law,” said Cllr. Momoh, who accused the prosecution of not proving its case.

Judge Gbeneweleh’s, sitting as Judge and Jury, July 30 ruling will be based on the evidence adduced by both parties in the case.


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