Government lawyers say defendant Matild Parker’s argument that she must be covered under executive immunity because she operated as agent of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf is inconceivable.
In oral arguments resisting Ms. Parker’s motion to dismiss the indictment in court Thursday, 20 September, Solicitor General Cllr. Darku Mulbah argued that if former President Sirleaf were a party in this case at hand, she would have been included in the trial.
He read Article 61 of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution that says the president shall be immune from any suits, arrests or detention, among others, on account of any act done while still president.
He argues further that a portion of this Article indicates that the president shall not be immune upon removal from office for the commission of any criminal act done while president.
The former National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director and her former comptroller Mrs. Christiana Kpabar – Pailey were indicted on multiple charges of theft of property, economic sabotage and criminal conspiracy for allegedly defrauding government of US$837,950.00. between July 2011 and December 2012.
Their lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson filed a motion this week asking the court to dismiss the indictment over claims that his clients were acting under the specific instructions of former President Sirleaf to expedite the removal of wrecks and dredging of the Port of Greenville, Sinoe County.
But prosecutors’ written resistance filed Wednesday afternoon contends that the defendants cannot benefit from presidential immunity in this instant case because the principal Mrs. Sirleaf who should have shielded Mrs. Parker “took away said immunity.”
The State maintains that the fact that Mrs. Parker was subjected to criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution, President Sirleaf knew that the defendants’ acts were contrary to her request for the ports to be dredged and security enhanced at the ports.
But defense lawyer Cllr. Johnson read a letter from Mrs. Sirleaf allegedly carrying her signature that he says has become the driving force of the subject of this trial.
He says the former president specifically instructed Mrs. Parker to take actions in the dredging of the Port of Greenville, and Mrs. Parker as NPA Managing Director worked at the will and pleasure of Mrs. Sirleaf.
Cllr. Johnson says their theory of the argument is whenever the president instructs an agent and the agent has performed the activity in the scope of the instruction given by the principal, that activity cannot be questioned in court.As such, Cllr. Johnson maintains that his clients are immune from all prosecution or appearances in court.
According to him, the only time the president of this country can be prosecuted even if they leave power, is when they were impeached while they were in power.
He requests the court to take judicial notice of the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Wiles vs Simpson case where the issue of executive immunity is addressed.Judge Boima Kontoe has reserved ruling to be delivered on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at the hour of 9am.
By Winston W. Parley