Friday, October 30, 2020

Liberia: Sable Mining Bribery Defendants, Others Set for Final Argument

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Final arguments are to take place in the much-publicized Sable Mining alleged bribery case involving seven former and current government officials.

Judge Peter Gbeneweleh made the disclosure Wednesday, June 17, during another hearing of the case at the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice.

“Final argument in this case is scheduled for Monday, July 22, 2019 at this court starting at the hour of 10:00 am,” said Presiding Judge Peter Gbeneweleh, who will have to set another date for ruling after the final argument due to his dual role in the case as both Judge and ‘jury of facts.’

The Judge’s decision was made when prosecution lawyer Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo announced that the prosecution was closing with the production of testimonies of its two rebuttal witnesses, Fred Snorton, an IT Specialist and Aaron Aboah, a former investigator of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

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

The prosecution’s 1st rebuttal witness Fred Snorton was invited to rebut the testimony of key Defendant Varney Sherman that the e-mails the prosecution claimed were exchanges between him and Sable Mining executives were hacked.

Rebuttal witness Snorton when asked by the prosecution what he could say of claims by the Defendant that his e-mail address was hacked, Snorton added that it is not impossible to hack an e-mail address and the hacker can get rid of the original contents but when this is done key component of the e-mail like the number does not change.

The e-mail evidence alleged to be exchanges between Sherman and Sable Mining executives are one of the prosecution’s key pieces of evidence admitted by the court.

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For Aboah, the LACC former investigator told the court that the Presidential Taskforce set up by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to probe the Global Witness Report that charged the defendants with bribery, gathered that Sable Mining sent money into Liberia to its lawyer (un-named) but he did not know how the money was expanded.

“The Sable Mining Board of Directors indicated to investigators that they sent money to Liberia but I don’t know the subject matter or how the money was expanded,” stated Aboah.

Read MoreLiberia Faces Daunting Challenges In the Fight Against Money Laundering

When rebuttal witness Aboah was questioned by the court concerning Sherman’s e-mail claims, Aboah added that the stash of e-mails was obtained from one O’Sullivan in South Africa.

When also questioned whether it was notarized since it came from another country, Aboah noted that he cannot say whether the e-mails were notarized or not because the Sable Mining case started three years ago.

The eight defendants in the Sable Mining bribery case were accused by the London-based watchdog group — Global Witness — in its May 2017 Report of allegedly receiving bribe in the amount of US$950,000 to change the PPCC Act of 2005 in favor of a British company, Sable Mining, to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County but the defendants have since denied the charges of bribery, economic sabotage, criminal facilitation and solicitation.

The defendants are Grand Cape Mount Senator Varney Sherman, former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Bomi Senator Morris Saytumah, former Mines and Energy Minister Eugene Shannon, former Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy E.C.B. Jones.

Others are former Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC) Richard Tolbert, former PPCC boss Willie Belleh and businessman Christopher Onanuga, who has been out of the trial due to what his lawyer said was an excuse granted by the court due to ill-health to seek medical treatment out of the country.

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