Liberia news

JFK indictees embarrass hearing

JFK indicteesProsecutors say there is “serious embarrassment” in the John F. Kennedy Medical Center’s economic sabotage trial at Criminal Court “C” where nearly 15 indictees are to stand trial, citing absence of some of the defendants in court despite being served notice of assignment for hearing scheduled for Wednesday, 1 June.

“Prosecution says with this being the case, their absence brings to a serious embarrassment in today’s proceedings for which, prays Your Honor to have the said defendants to show reason, if any, why their bond proffered by their surety should not be set aside for them to be rearrested, incarcerated for breaching the term of the bond…,” the prosecution said on Wednesday.

Government indicted several persons, some outside the employ of JFK Medical Center for allegedly diverting several insurance companies’ payments of over L$16m and over US$126,000 intended for the hospital into two bogus JFK USD and LD accounts created in cohort with privately-run First International Bank or FIB employees – defendants Lathia Waleh and James Ricks for their personal use.

Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. J. Darku Mulbah specifically told presiding Judge Emery S. Paye on Wednesday that defendants Benjamin Dargbeh and Thomas Tellewoyan were out of the bailiwick of the court, even though the Criminal Procedure Law mandates their plea against the indictment during the hearing.

But two of the indictees, Thomas Oliver Mezzeh and James Ricks requested and were granted by court to enter a plea bargaining agreement with prosecutors, meaning that they confessed judgment to crimes for which they were charged and would not challenge the state.

The alleged JFK fraud lead mastermind Mr. Patrick Konuwah, Rebeah Arnus, James Ricks, Thomas G. Telewoyan, Thomas Oliver Mezzeh, Benjamin W. Dargbeh, Jerry D. Morlu and Fahn F. Borbor and several others still at large were indicted this year for economic sabotage, theft of property, money laundering, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.

Those who remain on the run include Boima J. Varney, Lathia W. Waleh, Central Bank of Liberia IT Department Hardware Technician Prince Jallah and his wife Grace Dolly Jallah – then Executive Secretary to JFK CEO, John Fred Kennedy, Ballah Holmes and John Freeman Kennedy.

At Wednesday’s hearing, it seemed jury selection was in the making to commence the case, had some counsels not made request to postpone hearing for today, Thursday, 2 June. A staff of the Jury Management Office was seen in court as prospective jurors filled the benches, but later left after Judge Paye granted a continuance and rescheduled the case for Thursday.

Meanwhile, the court fined defendant James Ricks’ lawyer Atty. Jallah G. Zumon “a little amount” of US$50.00 payable to the revenue through the Sheriff within 72 hours as penalty for coming to court “so late.”

By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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