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County Attorney risks arrest

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The County Attorney for Montserrado, Cllr. Edwin K. Martin could face arrest here on the order of presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay if the prosecution here fails within 24 hours to pay a fine of US$150.00 into government revenues for having disrespected the court.

Judge Gbeisay’s order came Monday, 17 February at the Temple of Justice after defense lawyers in an economic sabotage case involving former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and others complained that the State had neglected to obey court’s order to provide copy of all species of evidence to the accused.

Upon the failure of the Prosecution to pay the US$150.00 fine into Government’s Revenue, the Judge orders that the state lawyer be arrested “until said amount is paid,” and further instructs that the State discloses all other species of evidence to the defense team on or before 4:00 PM on Monday.

According to the judge, the order is an enforcement of the statute that requires the State to provide copy of all species of evidence to the defense team before trial.
In obedience to the Statute, Judge Gbeisay notes that on last Tuesday, the court issued out an order, commanding the prosecution to make available all species of documentary evidence to each of the defendants on or before 17 February at the hour of 4:00 PM.

“The record of this court shows that the Prosecution did not take the court order seriously; as such, the defense counsels are not in possession of the species of evidence that could have made the defense to proceed with this trial,” the Court says.

Mr. Samukai, co-defendants Joseph P. Johnson and J. NyumahDorbor and others were indicted by President George MannehWeah’s regime on the accusation of embezzling funds generated in a compulsory saving scheme established in July 2009 for personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) during former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s rule.

Through this compulsory savings funds, prosecutors alleged that Defense Ministry officials including former Minister Samukai, former Deputy Defense Minister Joseph Johnson and former Defense Ministry Comptroller NyumahDorbor deducted the salaries of AFL officers from all ranks to serve as supplementary pension benefits for assistance to wounded soldiers and deceased soldiers’ families.

Over US$1.2m of the US$1.9m deposited was allegedly misapplied by Mr. Samukai, the prosecution alleges, and claims further that the defendants made themselves the only signatories to the account, leaving out the then AFL Chief of Staff and other ranking officers.
The accused are facing charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, and misuse of public money, among others.

During the hearing on Monday, Judge Gbeisay reserved ruling on prosecution’s challenge against the defendants’ criminal appearance bond.According to the judge, the defense has argued that as far as they are concerned, they obtained a certificate from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) which presupposes that the LRA is satisfied with the assessment.

The judge notes that the obvious thing to do is to have the LRA authority to appear in court to tell the court whether or not the institution has assessed the property in question or it has agreed with the amount stated as the assessed value of the property.

Judge Gbeisay says this information will place the court in a proper position to determine whether the bond posted by the defendants is sufficient or not.
The judge has reserved ruling on the motion to justify to be delivered on 24 February.By Winston W. Parley

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