Task Force re-fences Palm Grove

In what is being described by many here as waste of state resources, demolished walls around the Palm Grove Cemetery or Center Street Memorial Park are being re-erected, months after they were brought down by a special presidential task force (SPTF) headed by Madam Mary T. Broh, who is also Director-General of the General Services Agency (GSA).
When this paper on Wednesday, 11 January visited the overly congested cemetery, which has been closed to the public, task force employees were new walls around the premises from the direction of the Ministry of Public Works and the United Nations Drive.
Workers have already erected 15 feet of the new designs of the fence, containing steel unlike the previous concrete wall that enclosed the entire surroundings of the cemetery.
Some of the task force workers who our reporter attempted talking to decline to comment, but referred this reporter to main office at the GSA compound situated on U.N. Drive.
In late 2016, the head of the task force Madam Broh moved on the memorial park and broke the entire fence around the cemetery, using bulldozers to demolish walls amidst serious public outcry.
The GSA boss requested Liberians who have relatives’ graves at the cemetery to immediately remove bones of those deceased’s to rebury them elsewhere.
But some relatives or family members demanded re-burial package from government, arguing that they had paid fees for burial sites inside the cemetery, and if the authorities wanted them to relocate remains of their dead relatives, they should facilitate the process.
Several political commentators spoken to on government’slatest decision to re-fence the memorial park, want to know where finance for the re-construction process is coming from and cost of the ongoing work.
They said government needs to explain because the re-erection of the fence around the cemetery is a complete waste of task payer’s money that could be used on other meaningful developmental projects that could benefit the citizenry.
According to them, there is no reason why the government through Madam Broh broke down the old fence which was erected with public funds, including steel gates to protect the cemetery from criminals, who penetrate the area to break into graves to steal valuables such as clothes and jewelries from corpses.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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GW indictees’ bank statements in court

Nearly all commercial banks here that were ordered by the Criminal Court “C” to produce statements on past and present indicted officials accused by Global Witness of receiving bribes from U.K. – based Sable Mining have cooperated, submitting their responses to court.

Indictees in the case include former Speaker Alex Tyler and former chairman of the ruling Unity Party Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman, and several others accused by Global Witness of allegedly receiving bribes from U.K. –based Sable Mining to secure a mining contract.
Prosecutors asked the court last year for a subpoena of all bank statements of the indictees; while one of the indictees former Speaker Tyler was also seeking all species of evidence held against him in the case.
The Clerk of Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Mr. Knowles Shain told The NewDawnon Tuesday, 3 January that prosecutors have complied with the defendant’s request, while also saying the court submits documents to the prosecution upon receipt from banks subpoenaed in the case.

There were a total of eight subpoenaed banks, but the Clerk said only the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) failed to comply within the 72 hours mandate from the court, leaving the court to serve the bank a writ on Tuesday to serve as deterrence.

Banking information of the defendants were requested from Afriland Bank; Access Bank; GN Bank [formerly First International Bank]; United Bank of Africa (UBA); Global Bank; Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI); Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) and Ecobank Liberia Limited, respectively.

The banks were ordered to produce bank statements for Sherman and Sherman Inc; Deltal Mining Consolidated (Pty) Ltd; Sable Mining; West Africa Exploration and H. Varney G. Sherman. Others were Willie Belleh; Richard Tolbert; Morris Saytumah; Cletus Wortorson; Sumo Kupee; Henry Fahnbulleh, Ernest C.B. Jones and Christopher Onanuga.

Former Speaker Tyler and Sen. Sherman were two of several high profile officials indicted by the government based on a Global Witness report implicating them into alleged economic sabotage.

By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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Ophoree Diah, 3 others released

Four of the 9 Grand Gedeans convicted here for mercenarism have walked out of prison after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf extended them clemency.  The President extended the Executive clemency on New Year’s Eve (31 December) as part of gestures marking celebrations for the Christmas and New Year’s festivities.

Those released include an ex-general of the disbanded Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy or LURD rebels OphoreeDiah. General Diah, who also fought for an earlier rebel group ULIMO-J, served as chief of security at the National Port Authority (NPA) during the transitional period in 2004 prior to his arrest along with others in Grand Gedeh County for mercenary activities and subsequent conviction.

Five others are still languishing behind bar at the Monrovia Central Prison. Those released by the President along with General Diah are Moses Baye, Emmanuel Saywou and Jacob Saydee.
The Liberian leader had earlier released a batch of inmates from the Monrovia Central Prison prior to Christmas.  While some Liberians have welcomed President Sirleaf’s gesture, they equally wonder why she could not release all nine Grand Gedeans.
Credible prison sources told The NEW DAWN the remaining Grand Gedeans in prison include Bobby Sarpee, NyanzeeBarway, Edward Cole, Mohammed Masquoi and Stephen Glint.
Sources also disclosed that the health conditions of the remaining inmates from the county are not conducive, stressing a need for the government to close the chapter by releasing the five individuals left behind bar.

Meanwhile, several persons spoken to from Grand Gedeh County have praised President Sirleaf for releasing their kinsmen, but appealed that she extends similar gesture to those left in prison.
In October 2016, President Johnson-Sirleaf released the first batch of Grand Gedeans: Isaac Taryou, Sam Tarlay, Prince Yotay and James Lee Cooper, bringing to total 13 convicts in connection with the same crime.

The 13 Grand Gedeans were tried and found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by Criminal Court “D” at the Temple of Justice in July 2015 but lawyers representing the convicts at the time appealed to the high court against the sentence.
Liberia’s Human Rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, who took the appeal to the Supreme Court, argued that the state failed miserably to prove its case against the defendants and that the jurors’ guilty verdict against them was contrary to the evidence adduced during the trial, praying the high court to acquit the defendants.

“Your honor the state has failed miserably to prove its case against the defendants and that the testimonies of the state witnesses were un-corroborative and nothing but hearsay,” Cllr. Gongloe had argued.

But County Attorney for Montserrado County, Cllr. DakuMulbah, resisted the appeal and asked the high court to deny and dismiss it as the state proved its case beyond all reasonable doubts, noting that state witnesses’ testimonies were corroborative.

“Your honor the state has proved its case against beyond all reasonable doubts as the testimonies is regular, seven rebuttal witnesses and 51 pieces of evidence corroborative to warrant the defendant’s guilt,” Cllr. Mulbah resisted.
Final opinion handed down by the Supreme Court of Liberia headed by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and endorsed by four Associate Justices, KabinehJa’neh, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, Philip Banks and Sie-A-NyeneYouh upheld “That in the case before us, the state met the mandatory threshold standards of establishing prima facie evidence against nine of the 13 appellants/defendants.”

The high court’s opinion, read by Chief Justice Korkpor, further noted, “Wherefore and in view of the above, the guilty verdict against the four defendants in the lower court is reversed.The guilty verdict against the nine defendants is upheld, therefore the nine defendants are sentenced to life” The Grand Gedeans were among 18 other defendants arrested by state security in 2011 and 2012 during cross border fracas after post electoral violence in neighboring Ivory Coast between loyalists of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo and now incumbent President AlassaneOuattara. But five of the 18 were acquitted during trial at the lower court due to lack of sufficient evidence.

By Emmanuel Mondaye -Editing by Jonathan Browne

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