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Juror faces contempt hearing in LRA trial

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaThe Criminal Court “C” that is handling a bribery case against employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority or LRA at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has issued an order for contempt hearing against one of the newly empanelled juror Ojuku Gaye “for his unexcused” absence from Court on Wednesday, 10 May.

“The Jury Management Office is instructed to assist the Court in having Mr. Gaye appear for the contempt hearing”, Presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Yussif D. Kaba ordered on Wednesday.

The Court says juror Gaye’s failure to appear for hearing on Wednesday constitutes a violation of his civic duty, thus ordering the Clerk to issue out a citation for his appearance on Friday, 12 May at 1pm “to show cause if and why he cannot be held in contempt for his unexcused” absence from Court. The Court has already dropped juror Gaye from the case due to his absence on Wednesday, bringing up to two, the number of selected jurors the Court has dropped so far in the early stage of the trial against LRA’s Custom Officers defendants Joseph Weeks, Linda Sumowood and a broker Varney Johnson.

The other juror in person of Princess N. Tarpeh was dropped from the case after the Court granted her excuse due to “her inability to be on the panel citing educational engagement”. The Court has therefore suspended trial of the case and reassigned it for Friday, 12 May at 10:30am, and ordered the Clerk to communicate with the Jury Management Office to summon the remaining venire [prospective jurors] for the purpose of selecting the replacement of the two jurors that have been dropped from the case.

The jury panel when completed is due to hear facts into multiple charges of economic sabotage, bribery and criminal facilitation levied against defendants Weeks, Sumowood and Johnson. The indictees are accused in a three – count indictment of allegedly demanding and receiving from businessman Abraham GumbalaSinayoko an amount of US$500 in December 2015 so that and alleged US$2,352.91 that they claimed he owed government could be waived.

But prosecutors are insisting in the indictment that LRA has nothing in its records to show that Mr. Sinayoko owed government additional duties on a container for which the defendants were allegedly soliciting bribes to cut down his debt from US$2,352.91 to just US$500 for their personal uses.

Prosecutors say defendant Weeks was captured on a Closed Circuit Television or CCTV security system installed in the Custom Business Office or CBO when he received the US$500 from defendant Johnson who was the broker of Mr. Sinayoko.

The matter drew the attention of an assigned police officer when argument erupted between defendants Weeks and Johnson due to the latter’s demand for his share of the US$500 that had already been pocketed by defendant Weeks.

Defendant Sumowood is accused in the indictment of hiding the US$500.00 after Weeks placed it in the cartoon on her desk at the time he was walking to meet Officer Peters.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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