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Liberia news

Conspiracy of silence


-Prosecutors address ex-minister Beysolow

Prosecutors say indicted ex-Commerce Minister Miata Beysolow’s alleged failure to reverse decisions taken by her deputy while allegedly away was a “conspiracy of silence,” aimed at convincing the Criminal Court “C” to deny her a separate trial.

Madam Beysolow filed a request for separate trial with the court in April in an economic sabotage case that involves several former officials indicted for allegedly depriving government of US$5,764,110.84 which is a portion of US$13,083,350 from proceeds of a Japanese Oil Grant to Liberia.

She was jointly indicted along with former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC Managing Director Mr. T. Nelson Williams; LPRC’s former deputy managing director for operations Mr. Aaron J. Wheagar, and Commerce Ministry’s former director for the division of price analysis and marketing Mr. Steve Fahn-Paye.

Madam Beysolow’s counsels including Attys. Henry T. Nagbe, Sr, KunkunyonWleteh and Jonathan T. Massaquoi specifically raised contentions during argument for their client’s motion for separate trial that prosecutors did not link her to a specific offense throughout the indictment.

Rather, the defense counsels claimed that unlike other defendants whose offenses have been pointed out, prosecution accused Madam Beysolowof “conspiring and conniving”, concluding that she must be granted separate trial because her defenses are antagonistic to the rest of the accused.

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In Count Four of the indictment, the prosecution said Madam Beysolow and Paye conspired with Mr. Williams, Wheagar and implementing agent of the Japanese Oil Grant and Aminata and Sons in August 2011 … and deprived government of US$3,908,367.25.

The defense additionally claimed that when a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU was being signed by the Commerce Ministry and others, Madam Beysolow was not in the country.

Concerning the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC’s action against the alleged scandal, the defense claim that the entity’s investigative report recommended administrative action against Madam Beysolow, but the LACC clarified in court that it withdrew such report and conducted criminal investigation that resulted to the indictment of the defendants.

The defense concluded that by pressing criminal charges against Madam Beysolow, prosecution was stopping the function of the President to carry on administrative action against the ex-minister.

However, prosecution lawyers including Atty. George H. Dahn, Cllr. Tarweh S. Johnson and the LACC’s Othello S. Paymah argued that Madam Beysolow’s role was to supervise and ensure that the cheating that was ongoing at the Ministry of Commerce did not occur.

They prosecution contend that failure to reverse the action of her deputy was “a conspiracy of silence,” while telling the court that issues of Madam Beysolow’s defense can be decided at trial, but not an issue for severance.

They further noted that being a prominent citizen or serving in whatever position was not a basis for severance to be granted to the defendant.

The lawyers said as head of an agency, when decisions are taken in your absence, you are briefed upon return.

They concluded that the motion for severance should be denied in the interest of justice.

After entertaining argument, presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Emery S. Paye reserved ruling for anytime next week, on grounds that the records of the case is voluminous and he had just come to the court.

He told counsels that it is necessary that he carefully review those various records for the effective evaluation of the motion [before making decision].Editing Jonathan Browne

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