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In Singbeh, others trial: Judge subpoena clerk

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-Suspends trial

By Othello B. Garblah

Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Ousman F. Feika has ordered that the Clerk of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County be subpoenaed to produce an indictment against Mr. Hans Armstrong, a “British national” charged with theft of property during the county’s February 2020 Term of sitting.

Judge Feika gave the order after a defense lawyer in the ongoing economy sabotage, theft of property, forgery, and criminal conspiracy trial involving Senate Secretary Nanborlor F. Singbeh Sr., and former National Investment Commission (NIC) boss George W. Wisner and several others for which Mr. Armstrong is now a private prosecutor revealed that he (Mr. Armstrong) had earlier been indicted by that court for theft of property involving the same matter and individuals.

“Respondent says, one who has been indicted by the state is barred and disqualified from coming to institute like action against those who through the state have had said individual indicted.” Cllr. J. Darku Mulbah, former County Attorney, now one of several legal counsels for defendants said during the hearing on Monday, August 23. He argued that such law is applicable in all criminal proceedings.

Court documents in the possession of this paper revealed that during the February AD 2020 sitting of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court, the state/Republic of Liberia indicted private prosecutor Hans Armstrong for the crime of theft of property and forgery which is the same action or offense contained in the indictment now drown against Senate Secretary Singbeh and several other persons including former government officials and two banks.

Under the Liberian Civil procedure law, ILCLR TITLE I SECTION II.2, without the restoration of the rights of a defendant, who has been previously indicted in the same matter and involving the same parties like in the case of Hans Armstrong, such matter shall be dismissed.

Civil Procedure Law Section 11.2 (d)

Motion to dismiss:

1. Time; grounds. At the time of service of his responsive pleading, a party may move for judgment dismissing one or more claims for relief asserted against him in a complaint or counterclaim on any of the following grounds:

(a) That the court has not jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action;

(b) That the court has not jurisdiction of the person;

(c) That the court has not jurisdiction of a thing involved in the action;

(d) That there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause in a court in the Republic of Liberia;

(e) That the party asserting the claim has not legal capacity to sue.

In ruling on the matter as he gave his order for a Subpoena Duce Tecum to be served on the Clerk of the Nimba County 8th Judicial Circuit Court, Judge Feika noted that the clerk of the said court is hereby ordered to make available to this court the indictment drown against Mr. Hans Armstrong in the 8th Judicial Circuit Court and other papers appertaining to such matter in two weeks.”

The judge also suspended the economic sabotage trial ordering the prosecution team to do the rightful thing to ensure that all of the defendants named in the indictment are brought under the jurisdiction of the court or a motion for severance be appropriately filed before the court to continue the trial.

This is the second time that the trial is being suspended with a subpoena in addition. Last week, Judge Feika suspended the trial pending the issuance of a regular notice of assignment.

The judge on Tuesday, 17 August 2021 said the case was being suspended because the prosecution failed to properly serve the defendants.

However, earlier on Monday, August 23, the judge denied the defendants a motion for severance/ separate trial filed by lawyers representing two of the co-defendants in the same case-Ecobank and Afriland First Bank.

The co-defendants had argued for severance or separate trial, but the Prosecution countered that their request for a separate trial be dismissed because both institutions were jointly indicted by the state for the same crime.

The Prosecution further argued that the “averment that made reference to the two institutions alleges that the two institutions along with the other co-defendants either separately or jointly conspire to open a bogus account thru which several million United States Dollars of the private prosecutor were wired and that both institutions knowingly did not follow the recognized policy in the opening account of such nature.”  

“Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing, the motion for severance in these proceedings as requested by co-defendants Ecobank and Afriland First Bank is hereby denied and dismissed and the resistance hereto sustained,” Judge Feika ruled. But lawyers for both co-defendants took exceptions to the ruling.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/in-singbeh-others-trial-court-suspense-hearing/

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