The presiding Judge of Criminal Court ‘C’ has ordered prosecutors in the ongoing bribery trial involving former House Speaker Alex Tyler and several other officials to produce within ten days all species of evidence in theirpossession against the indictees.
Tyler, former ruling Unity Party Chairman, now Senator Varney Sherman and several other past and present government officials are facing an economicsabotage charges after a Global Witness report accused them of receiving bribesfrom Sable Mining to secure a concession contract.
Mr. Tyler lost the Speakership of the Legislature followingmonths of intense political fight with his colleagues to rescue himself to face his indictment at the Criminal Court “C” this year.
Prosecutors had said they could not disclose the evidence demanded byMr. Tyler now because another indictee in the same case Grand CapeMount County Senator Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman and his law firm hadalready appealed to the Supreme Court after Criminal Court “A” deniedtheir motion which sought to prevent prosecutors from subpoenaingdocuments from banks.
“That as a result of the pending appeal, the production of theevidence requested by respondent through the court from the financialinstitutions / banks for use against Movant and others was placed onhold and therefore the Respondent does not have access to same andtherefore cannot furnish same,” the government lawyers have said.
But the court presided over by assigned Judge YanieQuiquiGbaisay,Sr. did not agree with the government, warning that failure by theprosecution, the “Court may view it as sufficient ground to dismiss the charges levied against the Defendant … J. Alex Tyler”.
While taking this decision, the Court has however said bank accountswhich are still being contested are the exception in its instructionto prosecution to disclose “all species of evidence in theirpossession …”
In making his case to have the court compel prosecutors to provideevidence held against him, Mr. Tyler referenced an American SupremeCourt’s decision in the case Pennsylvania versus Ritchie … that the government has an obligation to turn over evidence in its possessionthat is both favorable to the accused and material to guilt orpunishment.
Mr. Tyler said a Presidential Task Force set by President EllenJohnson – Sirleaf to prosecute the case at hand had held a pressconference in July informing the nation and the world that it had inits possession “sufficient evidence to prosecute the Movant …” and theother defendants.
The court said it was not debatable whether or not the defendant wasentitled to disclosure of evidence against or in favor of him. It saidfurther that Sen. Sherman and his law firm’s objection to theproduction of the bank accounts which according to prosecution arematerial and relevant part of the species of evidence being demandedwill be addressed separately during the hearing of the motion. Prosecutors have taken exception to the court’s ruling.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah