Cllr. AbrahimSillah, the defense lawyer for acquitted former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, says his client’s production of more cogent evidence than the state in a trial to account for alleged excess LD$2 billion plus, speaks to the inadequacy of the Ministry of Justice.
Addressing journalists outside the court after the ruling Tuesday, 25 August in Monrovia, Cllr. Sillah argued that the defendant has no burden of proof, but the state does, adding that his client produced even more cogent evidence than the state produced because he thought it necessary to clear his name.
“All of this speaks to the inadequacy of the Ministry of Justice; and I can repeat myself to say it speaks to the inadequacy of the Ministry of Justice,” Sillah says.
“But for this to come out, it was … purely on the strength of the evidence that we adduced at trial. The judge, you heard it clearly, the defendant has no burden of proof. The state had the burden,” Cllr. Sillah says, thanking God that the judge had the courage and spine to render justice.
Sillah says he is glorified by the judge’s decision to look at the facts and evidence and rule purely on the basis of the evidence, adding: “If we have many judges of this kind, this country will be better than what it is today.”
Notwithstanding prosecution lawyer Cllr. Jerry D. K. Garlawolo says the fact that the judge has ruled against “us,” whatever way he rules, the State’s intent is to ensure that the facts come out.
Cllr. Garlawolo insists that the prosecution did establish the fact that there was a variance in terms of the amount of money brought into the country, but it’s the judge’s decision that the prosecution didn’t prove this.
Mr. Milton Weeks for his part says his vindication by the court proves that Liberia’s judicial system, “despite whatever political pressures there may be,” can still stand up and do the right thing.
“I was not sad, I have always been serious. If somebody kept you for two years, harass you, put you in jail two times in handcuffs, what you think you will, how you think you will feel? How you think you will feel? Two years of my life, two years of my life after giving service to the country, two years. How you think I will feel?” he says in response to this writer’s question.
Weeks says he is happy that he has been vindicated, and he intends to work in the private sector but he has no planned action against the government for this case.
Mr. Weeks laments that so many false allegations have been made against him, and that two years of his life have been spent trying to prove his innocence.
“But God is in control and he has proven and vindicated me,” he says, adding that his purpose was not to get involved into politics but to prove his innocence and he has done.
On Tuesday, 25 July, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay set free four former CBL officials held to account for alleged excess LD$2 billion plus because there is no scintilla of evidence that it ended up in their pockets, but he said they are guilty of unauthorized printing of LD$10 Billion.
They include former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, former CBL Board Members David Fahart, Elsie Dossen Bardio and Kollie Tamba.
Meanwhile Judge Gbeisay says since the prosecution sufficiently established and proved the defendants’ guilt of collectively ignoring and disobeying the Legislature’s caveat and wrongfully printing 10 Billion and the excess of 359,759,000.00, the defendants could be reprimanded civilly under the Code of Conduct.
But on the question whether or not the unauthorized printing of the LD$10bn by the CBL is a criminal offense, Judge Gbeisay rules that “The obvious answer is NO.”
The judge says the action of the government in receiving the money and infusing it in the economy, the government has ratified the wrongful act of the Central Bank Executive Governor and the Board of Governors, thereby erasing criminality, if any.
As such, Judge Gbeisay says it will be unfair, illegal and not prudent to criminally punish those who printed the money.
Judge Gbeisay rules that the presidential investigative team’s (PIT’s) report was in error with reference to the mathematical calculation and its limitation to the parking list only.
He answers in the negative to questions whether or not the prosecution established and proved beyond a reasonable doubt that LD$13 Billion plus was printed by Crane Currency, shipped to Liberia and that LD$2.6 Billion is missing or not accounted for.
Mr. Charles E. Sirleaf, the son of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, was initially among several CBL officials indicted by the government here in 2019, but having been nolleprosequi with prejudice in May this year, he was not included in the last version of the indictment based on which this case has ended.
Besides Mr. Sirleaf, the prosecution here also entered a nolleprosequi (dropped charges) in favor of defendants Richard H. Walker, Dorbor M. Hagba and Joseph Dennis. Their indictment in 2019 followed a series of mass protests that led local and international institutions to investigate a claim that the money had gone missing.
By Winston W. Parley