Prosecutors and defense counsels representing former House Speaker Alex Tyler, who is facing bribery and economic sabotage claims levied by Global Witness, are expected to enter argument at the Criminal Court“C” today, Thursday, 16 February over government’s request to amend two separate indictments in the case.
One of defense counsels’ contentions is that without consolidating the two indictments that were drawn in May 2016 term of court and November 2016 term of court, respectively they cannot be jointly amended in one motion on grounds that the May 2016 in dictees have rights to separate trial.
Having previously secured indictments at separate times against several officials in 2016, prosecutors recently file damotion to amend certain counts in the indictments. At the time of their indictment last year, the defendants were accused by Global Witness of receiving bribes in the tune of US$950,000 from a U.K. - based company Sable Mining, to influence officials’ decision to have a concession at Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County declared non-bidding in favor of the alleged bribe giver.
Though not all of the accused were jointly indicted, high profile officials named in the scandal include former speaker Tyler, who lost the top job in the heat of the allegations; former ruling Unity Party chair Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman, Nigerian national Chris On anuga,former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon and former Minister of State for Finance, Economic and Legal Affairs, Senator Morris Saytumah, among others.
But following the filing of prosecution’s motion to amend the indictments recently, the defense representing Mr. Tyler on Wednesday,15 February filed a resistance with the court, arguing that there were two separate indictments drawn against the indictees by the Grand Jury for Montserrado County in two separate terms of court last year.
In its resistance, the defense has said that the defendants that wereindicted by the Grand Jury in the May 2016 Term of Court were separate from those that were indicted in the November Term of Court.
They argued that in the November Term of Court, the Grand Jury indicted defendants Richard Tolbert, Andrew Groves, Klaus Piprek,Eugene Shannon, Morris Saytumah and Willie Belleh “for the same andidentical crimes that were alleged in the May 2016 Term of Court indictment”.
But the defense is saying that the defendants named in the November Term of Court indictment were not the same defendants named in the May Term of Court indictment.
“Therefore, amendment of the two and separate indictments withdifferent defendants is not applicable under our law withoutconsolidating the two indictments irrespective of the crimes allegedare the same”, lawyers representing Mr. Tyler have argued.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne