MONTSERRADO- Monrovia â€“ Judge Nancy Sammie of Criminal Court â€œCâ€ has dropped all charges against former Liberia Airport Authority Managing Director, Ellen Corkrum, who was accused by the government of stealing over US$1 million from the agency in 2013 and violating public trust by wrongfully diverting public monies and assets to her personal use and those of her friends.
The judgeâ€™s action was based upon a request from the governmentâ€™s prosecution lawyers on Monday seeking to abandon charges against the defendant.
According to Wesseh A. Wesseh, one of the prosecution lawyers, the governmentâ€™s action to drop charges against Corkrum stems from its inability to serve the defendant with her indictment and Writ of Arrest and to bring her under Liberiaâ€™s jurisdiction from the United States.
â€œIt is the Republic of Liberia that indicted the defendants over five years [ago],â€ he said. â€œAnd it has been difficult to reach out the writ of arrest and the indictment, therefore, the same Republic of Liberia has come and entered or requested the court to Nolle Prosequoi this case.â€
In July 2013, the government indicted Corkrum for embezzlement and corruption for activities related to her time as head of the Liberia Airport Authority. Before her indictment could be served and her movement restricted, Corkrum had already secretly left the country, only to begin releasing a string of audio recordings implicating other senior government officials.
The ex-airport boss was indicted, along with Musa Bility, then chairman of the Board of Directors of the airport authority; the Monrovia Diaspora Consulting, LLC, through Momar Dieng, a U.S. citizen; and the First International Bank; and all authorized representatives of the authority. They were indicted on charges of economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, conspiracy to defraud the government, and making unauthorized transfers of funds from government accounts.
The First International Bank was indicted for allegedly conspiring with co-defendants Corkrum, and Melvin Johnson & Associates, to make an unauthorized transfer of funds in the amount of US$56,750 from the account of the Liberia Airport Authority when Corkrum was managing director.
Corkrum was also accused of transferring US$269,000 to a fictitious company, Diaspora Consulting, LLC and its CEO, Momar Dieng, with whom she reportedly attended the Kennedy Business School, Harvard University.
In 2015, some efforts were made to secure Corkrumâ€™s extradition to Liberia. Former Solicitor General Betty L. Blamo traveled to the United States to meet U.S. authorities towards this end. To date, Corkrum has neither been served her indictment nor been extradited, leading prosecutors to finally drop charges.
Following the governmentâ€™s request to the court to drop the charges, Judge Sammie granted their submission without hesitation, ultimately dismissing charges and the indictment against Corkrum.
Sammie said the court had â€œno alternativeâ€ but to agree with the government since â€œit is the Government of Liberia that has the responsibility to institute criminal charges against the accused person and prosecute them.â€
Featured photo by ZezeÂ Ballah