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Jury panel warned in LRA trial

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A jury panel selected to hear facts into an indictment against employees of Liberia’s Revenue Authority or LRA has been warned against discussing the case with lawyers, families or any other person while the case has not yet ended.


Presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Yusu D. Kaba gave the warning on Tuesday, 9 May following the completion of the jury selection process, which would kick start the trial against some LRA’s Custom Officers accused of economic sabotage, bribery and criminal facilitation.

The accused individuals are Joseph Weeks and Linda Sumowood along with a broker Varney Johnson. Judge Kaba says jurors should report anyone discussing the case with them, warning that such persons will be arrested and jailed.

The three – count indictment accuses the defendants of allegedly demanding and receiving from a businessman called Mr. Abraham GumbalaSinayoko an amount of US$500 in December 2015 in return to waive an additional payment for an alleged US$2,352.91 that they claimed he owed government.

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.

But after allegedly receiving a white envelope containing the US$500, the indictment claims that defendant Weeks opened it, counted the money and then placed the money in the right pocket of his trouser.

Afterwards, defendant Weeks was alleged to have immediately taken Mr. Sinayoko’s custom document and presented it to defendant Johnson. But Johnson was said to have demanded his share of the US$500.00 from Weeks, thus sparking some argument between the two men.

According to the indictment, the defendants’ argument drew the attention of an assigned officer of the Liberia National Police or LNP, Detective Albert Peters. When Officer Peters approached the counter where defendant Weeks was assigned and asked him to come out from behind the counter, the indictment says defendant Weeks placed the US$500 in a cartoon on the desk of Customer Officer Linda Sumowood.

Defendant Sumowood is accused in the indictment of hiding the US$500, after Weeks placed it in the cartoon on her desk at the time defendant Weeks was walking to meet Officer Peters. The case is assigned for today, Wednesday, 10 May at 10am at the Criminal Court “C”, Temple of Justice.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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