Presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh has rejected a request by lawyers representing defendant Varney G. Sherman to subpoena former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf in the Sable Mining trial for the production of the original copies of a 2009 final draft legislation and the enacted law of 2010.
Ruling on the defense team’s application Tuesday, 2 July upon prosecution’s resistance to it, Judge Gbeneweleh says the official instruments are not the private documents of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to be in her personal possession after her tenure in January, 2018.
“This court is legally paralyzed to issue a compulsory Writ of Subpoena Duces Tecum … Ad testificadum on President George M. Weah for the production of the original copies of the instruments, and also to appear before this court to testify in contravention of our law,” the Judge rules.
The Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. Sherman is standing trial for alleged economic sabotage and other charges along with former House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Bomi Sen. Morris Saytumah and other senior officials for alleged US$950,000 bribe allegedly offered by U.K. – based Sable Mining to change Liberian concession laws in its favor for a concession contract.
The prosecution here claims that as lawyer for the company, Cllr. Sherman allegedly inserted a provision in the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act, specifically Section 75 regarding non – bidding process, favoring Sable Mining.
The indictment of the officials is as a result of a report released by U.K. – based watchdog group Global Witness, alleging that the Liberian officials took bribes provided by Sable Mining for the passage of the law.
But in his testimony Tuesday, Cllr. Sherman says the Global Witness report was an opportunity for former President Sirleaf “to justify her unjustifiable action” against people who had unblemished reputation before them.Sherman laments that once his name and that of former Speaker Tyler’s were mentioned in the Global Witness report, he guesses that former President Sirleaf said: “thank God Almighty, this is my time to disgrace them.”
“…[We] call this a political witch hunt because at the time of the publication of The Deceivers by Global Witness, President Ellen Johnson and Speaker Alex Tyler could not see eye to eye; she eventually forced his resignation,” Sherman testifies.“In my case, and the case of Prof. Willie Belleh, President Sirleaf never forget 1997 when we stood on principles and refused for her to be the presidential for the Liberian Action Party against Charles Taylor …,” he continues.
The accused also believes that Mrs. Sirleaf used the Global Witness report to witch hunt him because when he served as Independence Day National Orator during her administration, he accused her government of corruption, nepotism and the departure from the fundamental principle of good governance “which we agreed upon” as a basis for the merger two parties.
He recalls that in 2010, President Sirleaf’s Cabinet made a decision that the Wologisi Mountain shall go out for competitive tender, using a US$5m grant from the Chinese to up the ante for any bider.
Earlier in July 2009, Sen. Sherman says certain specialists came into Liberia with the support of the American money contracted by International Business Initiative of Virginia, United States of America and GEMAP.
Following a study on Wologisi Mountain followed by a report to President Sirleaf, he says the specialists recommended that notwithstanding the limited information on Wologisi, it should be submitted for competitive tender.“How could I have made a plan like Global Witness alleged to bribe Liberian Government Officials in the face of all these facts to insert a Section 75 at the Legislature in the PPCC Law? Sen. Sherman wonders.
By Winston W. Parley