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Gov’t defends GW email evidence

Prosecutors are mounting defense in support to email evidences introduced in the trial of several past and present Liberian officials accused by British watchdog group Global Witness of receiving bribes amounting to over US$950,000 from U.K.-based Sable Mining to change a concession law here.

“Respondent submits that the instruments were written in the course of transaction with the co-defendant H. Varney G. Sherman, Heine Van Niekerk and Paul O’Sullivan while the latter two voluntarily turned over all of the email communications that are subject of these proceedings to the investigators”, prosecution said Tuesday, 14 March.

During the course of gathering evidence against those accused by Global Witness in the alleged bribery scandal, prosecutors claimed to have “directly and/ or indirectly” acquired email communications from two recipients in persons of Heine Van Niekerk and private investigator Paul O’Sullivan.

After prosecution’s first witness Mr. Marc N. Kollie, a senior investigator from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC testified last weekend, the defense team returned this week with an objection against government’s production of email evidences on grounds of alleged violation of rights to privacy.

Government is prosecuting a long list of former and present high profile officials including former House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman, former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, former Minister of State for Economic and Legal Affairs, now Sen. Morris Saytumah and former National Investment Commission Boss Dr. Richard Tolbert.

Other indictees include Willie Belleh, Ernest C.B. Jones, Nigerian national Chris Onanuga, and U.K.-based Sable Mining executives Klaus Piprek and Andrews Groves for bribery, economic sabotage, money laundering, criminal facilitation, criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

In their objection to the email evidences filed with the Criminal Court “C” that is handling the case, counsels for the indictees were claiming alleged illegal search and seizure, as well as hacking and doctoring of [contents] to create evidence against the defendants.

But in a resistance filed early Tuesday morning, 14 March, prosecution contended that the evidence obtained did not fall under any principle of the law cited by the defense, adding that the emails were acquired directly or indirectly from Niekerk and O’Sullivan.

“Prosecution also says that it is Heine Van Niekerk who gave all the emails subject to these proceedings to the investigators, the said Heine Van Niekerk also did give the private investigator Paul O’Sullivan the very same emails and other documents including the business records of Liberia Iron Ore Investment”, the State said. Presiding Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay has assigned the hearing of the case to Thursday, 16 march.

By Winston W. Parley

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