Several Liberian officials facing economic sabotage trial based on Global Witness accusations of receiving bribes have each been fined US$200.00 for not attending a Court session, except former House Speaker J. Alex Tyler who was present and Sen. Morris Saytumah who the Court “inadvertently” did not serve the notice of assignment.
Global Witness had claimed that the indictees allegedly received bribes of over US$950,000 from U.K. – based Sable Mining to make law declaring Mount Wologizi in Lofa County a non – bidding concession in favor of the mining company.
The case began since 2016, but legal formalities have beeninterplaying ahead of the main hearing which should have begun onMonday, 6 March with the reading of the entire indictment to theindictees to ascertain their plea whether or not they were guilty.
Judge YamieQuiquiGbeisay ruled Monday that each of the defendantsthat were fined should pay US$200.00 into government revenues on orbefore the case is called at 9am on Tuesday, 7 March.
He has ordered the clerk to issue a writ of arrest against theindictees if they fail to pay the fines within the time prescribed.
The case involves former Speaker Tyler, former ruling Unity PartyChairman Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman, Ernest C.B. Jones, Nigeriannational Christopher Onanuga, former National Investment CommissionBoss Richard Tolbert, Sable Mining executive Klaus Piprek and WillieBelleh. Others include Dr. Eugene SHannon and Sen. Morris Saytumah.
They are facing charges of bribery, economic sabotage, criminalconspiracy, criminal solicitation, money laundering and criminalfacilitation.
From the onset, Judge Gbeisay had warned on Monday that during thetrial, the defendants are under obligation to respect the mandate ofthe court, having earlier recognized that they were all prominentcitizens of this country.
The Court said the assignment issued had clearly called for trial, and the fact that counsels for defendants filed a paper did not in any way invalidate the assignment out of the Court.
“However, this action being their first time, this Court will not do the obvious thing to set Bill Bond aside and have them arrested. This Court hopes and prays that such action will not be repeated,” the Judge warned.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah