MONROVIA, Montserrado – Judge Yamie Gbeisay of Criminal Court C is threatening to dismiss charges against the former Central Bank of Liberia governor, Milton Weeks, after prosecutors asked for a second delay in the trial.
The warning came a day after state prosecutors asked the court for a seven-day postponement of the trial while negotiations with Weeks were ongoing. Prosecutors say they want to resolve the case and save time, energy, and resources.
Accepting the state prosecutors’ request to suspend proceedings of the corruption case, Judge Gbeisay frowned on the behavior of state lawyers, describing it as a mockery of the court and the justice system.
He said he expected that once the defendant was indicted, the state should have already drawn up oral and documentary pieces of evidence. However, the judge said he was surprised by the delay from prosecution, which had previously asked for a delay of three weeks during the previous term of court.
“The request was granted and the three weeks requested for was extended beyond six weeks and they are still praying for continuance in the matter which is delaying the court term,” Gbeisay added.
Weeks had been arrested in March 2019 along with Charles Sirleaf, deputy governor for operations; Dorbor M. Hagba, director of finance; Richard H. Walker, director for operations; and Joseph Dennis, director for internal audit. The men were allegedly involved in the missing L$16 billion drama that created an international embarrassment for the Liberian government. They were indicted for theft of property, economic sabotage, misuse of public money, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation, and illegal disbursement of public money.
Two weeks ago, the court accepted the government’s request to dismiss charges against four of the indictees, leaving Weeks as the lone defendant.
The former officials were arrested after two investigative reports uncovered a wide range of discrepancies in the printing of the new Liberian banknotes.
The investigation established that on May 17, 2016, Sirleaf, while serving as acting executive governor of the bank, made a request through former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (his mother) to the legislature to print L$5 billion to replace the legacy notes. However, the reports said more banknotes were printed than authorized.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah