Prosecutors are requesting the Criminal Court “C” to allow live videorecording and broadcast of the ongoing economic sabotage trial ofseveral Liberian officials and U.K. – based Sable Mining officials tovindicate Liberia’s justice system, ensure that “justice is seen to bedone” and “the verdict is universally accepted”.
The indictment against the officials claims that over US$950,000 wasoffered in bribes by Sable Mining to have a law made in its favordeclaring Mount Wologisi in Lofa County a non-bidding concession.
The allegation by Global Witness caused former House Speaker AlexTyler to be dethroned last year by his colleagues after being indictedalong with former ruling Unity Party Chair Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman,Nigerian national, Chris Onanuga and Ernest C.B Jones.
Another indictment drawn later last year combined officials of SableMining in person of Andrew Groves and Klaus Piprek with more Liberianofficials including former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, Mr.Richard Tolbert, Sen. Morris Saytumah and Mr. Willie Belleh.
Government’s request for video recording is prompted by a doubt raised by one of the defendants; Mr. Groves. Mr Groves has allegedly questioned thecredibility of Liberia’s justice system suggesting to the UK Government and its people that he cannot get a fair trial in Liberiabecause the country’s justice system is deeply flawed and corrupt.
“Further, applicant says that this case has generated suchinternational attention and attraction that the trial of this mattermust not only ensure that justice is done but that justice is seen tobe done,” prosecutors pleaded.
The government further contends that since the adoption of Rule 11 ofthe General Rule of Court, there are advancements in technology whichmake the presence of live screening and broadcast of courtroomactivity possible with less intrusive means and distraction.
“That because it will be in accordance with international bestpractice that high profile cases of this nature which garnerinternational attention with vested interest of family and compatriotsin more than one jurisdiction is made available to instantaneousviewing the world over”, the government adds.
Prosecutors have also cited a compelling public outcry interest here“to allow for this kind of transparent presentation of judicialprocess”.
The court has not yet begun hearing the main case as it continues toreceive multiple motions and resistance. A government motion filedrecently to amend the two indictments which carry the same charges washeard on Monday, 20 February, but the Court did not make any rulingimmediately.
It has instead ordered all parties involved to submit their LegalMemorandum in 12 hours, advising the Court to rule. On Monday, 20February, defendant Richard V. Tolbert filed two separate motions, oneseeking separate trial while the other opposed amendment of theindictments.
Earlier on Friday, 17 February, defendant Sen. Varney Sherman filed a Bill of Information with the Court, complaining that up to thetime of filing his Bill of Information, prosecution had “failed andrefused to file with the Clerk of Court” list of witnesses that areexpected to testify and to serve him a copy.
He asked the Court to issue the necessary order directing governmentto file its witnesses’ names alongwith a summary of what each witnessis expected to testify to.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah