By Winston W. Parley
Criminal Court “C” Judge YamieQuiquiGbeisay says the failure of Madam Mildred Siryon, Clerk of the House of Representatives to appear as subpoenaed witness Wednesday, 15 July without any excuse is in defiance of the court, threatening to proceed with contempt hearing against her if she fails to appear on 20 July.
“With reference to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, this court accepts her action as a defiance but with the spirit [collaboration] and [cooperation] between and among the three [branches] of Government, she will be forgiven for the first time,” Judge Quiqui says.
Madam Siryon and former House Speaker Mr. Emmanuel Nuquaye have been subpoenaed by the court on prosecution’s request to appear and testify in the ongoing trial of former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials indicted for alleged theft and economic sabotage of billions of Liberian Dollars.
“The clerk is hereby ordered to issue again the writ of subpoena on the said clerk that failure for the clerk to appear, this court shall proceed against her in contempt proceeding as no one is above the law or the authority of this court or any court of competent jurisdiction,” the judge orders.
With reference to former Speaker Emmanuel Nuquaye who also did not appear to testify as subpoena witness on Wednesday, Judge Quiqui explains that Mr. Nuquaye had called him via phone to ask for a day or two to prepare himself.
“He is a human [being] who has to engage in daily activities but he personally received said subpoena, this court sees his action not [to] be [defiant],” Judge Quiqui states. According to Judge Quiqui, former Speaker Nuquaye received the subpoena on the eve of the date he was subpoenaed to appear, adding that in the wisdom of the court, “Mr. Nuquaye action is in no way to disrespect the court.”
Earlier expressing his frustration, Judge Gbeisay indicated that it is not strange in this society that a member or official of the government can’t even respect the law in general, including the order of the court of competent jurisdiction. Referencing the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Judge Gbeisay notes that the sheriff’s return shows that she received and acknowledged the subpoena.
However, the judge says early Wednesday morning, 15 July, Cllr. FonatiKoffa, Chairman of the Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives said that there was a confusion as to which document the House Clerk was subpoenaed to testify to.
Besides, Judge Gbeisay says Cllr. Koffa indicated that the House was in full session and it was difficult to have the clerk search for the document requested in the matter.
According to him Cllr. Koffa requested for 10 days to enable the clerk to search for and identify the document requested.
“This judge informed him that he was not a party to the case and as such he is not authorized to make such request …,” he says. Judge Gbeisay notes that he told Cllr. Koffa that since the clerk is a witness of the State, whatever problem she had should be discussed with the prosecution.
“From the content of the Prosecution’s submission, it appear that there is no understanding between the Prosecution and the witness in question who happens to be the Clerk of the House of Representatives,” he adds.
The Judge stresses that the manner in which the prosecution is presenting its witnesses is being poorly coordinated, saying it is the prosecution that indicted the defendants and submitted the list of witnesses. Therefore, it should not be the one requesting for time every now and then for continuance.
The subpoenaed officials are due to testify in the trial of former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks and David Fahart, Elsie DossenBardio and KollieTamba who are standing trial for multiple charges including theft and economic sabotage of billions of Liberian dollars.
All the defendants on trial have pleaded not guilty for charges of theft of property; economic sabotage; fraud on the internal revenue of Liberia; misuse of public money, property or record; theft or illegal disbursement of public money; criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
They were indicted for the alleged theft of billions of local currency printed and shipped to Liberia following a series of mass protests that prompted local and international investigation into claims that the money went missing.
The fifth defendant Melisa A. Emeh is said to be out of the bailiwick of Liberia and has not been brought to court, therefore the court has granted prosecution’s request to grant her a separate trial so as to enable the four other defendants that are available to get speedy trial.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah