State lawyers are due to file their returns to defense’s quest to dismiss the indictment against former National Port Authority (NPA) Ms. Matilda Parker and former comptroller Christiana Kpabar – Pailey this week.Defense lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson informed Criminal Court “C” Tuesday, 18 September that he had filed a motion earlier on Monday to dismiss the indictment.
As a matter of procedure in any matter before a court, when a motion is filed, the court must hear the motion before the court can proceed with the main case.But Judge Boima Kotone denied Cllr. Johnson’s submission on grounds that a motion of that nature must be filed at least 24 hours before it’s a hearing date.
According to Judge Kontoe, the defense filed the motion almost at 4pm at Court “C” on Monday, and served its adversary at 7pm on the eve of the commencement of the case, Monday, 17 September.As a result, Judge Kontoe sustained prosecution’s resistance to the defense’s submission that called for the hearing the motion before the actual case is heard.
Meanwhile, Judge Kontoe has assigned the next hearing of the case to Thursday, 20 September at 9am.
This means that the merit of the motion to dismiss the indictment as filed by Cllr. Johnson has not been touched yet by the Court “C” until the next hearing on Thursday.
Ms. Parker and Mrs. Kpabar – Pailey were jointly indicted on multiple charges of theft of property, economic sabotage and criminal conspiracy for allegedly defrauding government of US$837,950.00. between July 2011 and December 2012.
When the case was called on Tuesday, 18 September, Cllr. Johnson informed Judge Kontoe that he had filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the indictment on grounds of executive immunity and confidentiality.He claims in the motion that his clients were acting under the specific instructions of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf to expedite the removal of wrecks and dredging of the Port of Greenville, Sinoe County.
Cllr. Johnson says during the implementation of former President Sirleaf’s instructions, pursuant to that specific mandate, several other meetings and discussions were held.During those alleged meetings, he claims that instructions were given directly to his client; some of which he says are confidential and cannot be disclosed because of presidential immunity.
As such, Cllr. Johnson argues that they are even above Attorney-Client Privilege and he has advised his clients not to disclose to their legal team.He adds that such confidential information cannot be revealed in open Court as well or demanded by Court processes because they are privileged.
Solicitor General Cllr. Darku Mulbah has asked the Court “with troubled spirit” for continuance (postponement) of the trial to afford prosecutors the time to file a written returns to the defense’s motion before the next hearing date.
He says the motion was served on the State by 7:04 pm on Monday, 17 September after official working hours.
Cllr. Mulbah sees the defense’s move to file a motion to dismiss the indictment as a way of trying to impede the speedy hearing of the matter.
According to him, the filing of the motion was done at a time the defendants had already been arraigned or have pleaded to the indictment before the case was ruled to trial.The next hearing of this case is due Thursday, 20 September at 9am.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah