Tension erupted Wednesday, 27 February when the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC) alleged US$1.8m case against some employees resurfaced at the Criminal Court “C” with defense mounting resistance against prosecutors’ request for the court to furnish the State with the case file.
Earlier when the case was called Wednesday, State lawyer Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo made a request to Judge Boima Kontoe for the court to give the State the case file because during previous trial in 2013, prosecutors had presented all the evidence they had to the court and they were identified, marked and admitted into evidence.
But defense lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson equates the prosecution’s request to its alleged inability to produce evidence against the defendants, accusing the State of seeking to use the court as a scapegoat to insinuate that it is responsible for the lack of evidence.
He argues that the prosecution has no evidence in its possession to proceed with trial against his clients.
Cllr. Johnson asks the court to dismiss the case on its merits, lamenting that his clients have been kept in stagnation for 11 years, denied jobs and travelling opportunities due to stigma because the case fails to reach conclusion.
Following arguments pros and cons against the State’s submission and defense’s resistance, Judge Boima Kontoe reserved ruling pending the date of assignment of the case.
In 2011 the LCCBC indicted 11 persons initially for allegedly stealing US$1,882,464.86, citing their alleged roles in siphoning the money from the company’s proceeds.
But charges were dropped against some of the indictees, while four persons in persons of George Paye, Emmanuel Tyler, Sam Oyee and Tonia Kpardeh remained on trial.
At least three of the four defendants that remained on trial were seen in court Wednesday when the case resurfaced.
Jurors handed a hung verdict during previous trial against the four defendants and the court moved the case for re-trial.
By Winston W. Parley