State Prosecutors’ Unreadiness Further Delays Global Witness Corruption Case

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Trial failed to resume on Wednesday in the Global Witness corruption case after state prosecutors requested for additional time to prepare for further arguments.

Grand Cape Mount’s Senator Varney Sherman, former House Speaker Alex Tyler, the former National Investment Commission chairman Richard Tolbert, Bomi’s Senator Morris Saytumah and others were indicted in 2016 on charges of economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, and criminal solicitation among others.

The defendants were accused by Global Witness, a U.K.-based corruption watchdog that focuses mostly on investigating exploitations of natural resources, of collaborating to undermine the Public Procurement and Concession law to give Sable Mining, also a British company, a non-competitive acquisition of mineral rights over the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa. All defendants pleaded not guilty.

During initial arguments last year, the defense team headed by prominent lawyer Moses Paygar told the court that an email the government intended to use as its key evidence to prosecute the defendants was a private exchange between Sen. Sherman, who is the principal defendant, and executives of Sable Mining. Paygar argued that the email account was hacked and could not be used as prominent evidence.

Judge Yamie Gbeisay, who was presiding over Criminal Court C at the time, accepted the defense’ argument and granted the email to temporarily mark the evidence.

However, the government’s lawyers, headed by former solicitor general Daku Mulbah, took exception to the judge’s decision and filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

The Supreme Court granted the prosecution’s petition on grounds that the ruling by the lower court judge was in error.

The case was due to resume on Wednesday, May 29. But prosecution lawyers told Judge Peter Gbenewelleh that they needed additional time to properly prepare for the trial.

Meanwhile, the judge has re-assigned the case for Wednesday, June 5, 2019.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

 

Miama Morine Pewee

Miama Morine Pewee is a senior student at the African Methodist Episcopal University, studying Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Administration. She holds a certificate in Gender Sensitive Reporting, a diploma in Journalism, and an advanced certificate in Computer Science.

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