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Liberia: Court dismisses Singbeh’s indictment

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By Lincoln G. Peters

The Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia has dismissed the indictment drawn against Liberian Senate Secretary Nanborlor F. Singbeh Sr., former National Investment Commission (NIC) boss George W. Wisner and several others who were jointly facing trial for alleged economic sabotage, theft of property, and criminal conspiracy.

In his ruling Monday, 6 September 2021, Judge Ousman F. Feika said the private prosecutor Mr. Hans Armstrong, a British national, was indicted in the same case while those he is now prosecuting were the private prosecutors during the February 2020 Term of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County and a writ of arrest was subsequently issued against him. 

But Judge Feika found that the same State that indicted Armstrong had proceeded to indict Singbeh, Wisner, and the other defendants without first concluding the initial indictment drawn against Mr. Armstrong in Nimba County.

“The law in this jurisdiction is that a cause of action can be dismissed if there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause in a court in the Republic of Liberia,” Judge Feika said Monday. 

He added that this principle of law has been upheld in a plethora of the Supreme Court opinions.

“This Court says that … Mr. Hans Armstrong, the private prosecutor is indicted for crimes of theft of property and forgery in another court in the Republic of Liberia, the same crimes for which the defendants herein are also indicted and made to be brought before the court for the prosecution at the instance of Mr. Armstrong,” Judge Feika asserted.

The legal battle is rooted in a dispute between Singbeh and Armstrong over a question over the rightful ownership of two yellow machines that include one caterpillar excavator with model 325 DNL valued at USD120, 000.00 and one Atlas Copco Jackhammer valued at USD 225, 000, 00.

The machines belong to MHM EKO Liberia Inc, and the equipment in question is currently being rented by ArcelorMittal Liberia.

The Company MHM EKO Liberia Inc. was organized in May 2013 and registered as a legal entity in June 2013. Six months after its registration, Singbeh was joined by two foreign partners-Pavel Miloschewsky and Martin Miloschewsky. Singbeh served as President and CEO before the current controversy ensued.

Meanwhile, Judge Feika ruled that it would be unwise for the Court to proceed with the prosecution of the defendants, especially so when the outcome from the trial could have adverse effects on the outcome of the other trial in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County.

He noted keenly that the defendants are the private prosecutors in the criminal indictment against Mr. Armstrong in Nimba County.

The Judge explained that the Supreme Court of Liberia has opined that “the pendency of another action over the same subject matter between the same parties in another court, is ground for the dismissal of an action.” 

Based on the Supreme Court’s opinion, the Judge continued that a court may not entertain a matter when such matter is pending in another court of concurrent jurisdiction.

Judge Feika recalled that Mr. Armstrong was arrested on March 6, 2020, and incarcerated at the Sanniquellie Central Prison, while the defendants in the proceedings were indicted during the May 2020 Term of Court in Monrovia, barely one court term after Armstrong had been indicted in Nimba County.

Other defendants in the case along with Singbeh and Wisner include Othello Z. B. Karr, Incentive Officer, NIC; Karel S. Socher, General Manager, MHM Eko-Liberia; Ales Sranmek; Sherman Logan; Jan Holask; Barry F. Tequah; EcoBank Liberia; Ousman Fofana, General Manager, Standard Logistics; Gloria Cain and Sylvester Selvkpon.

Additionally, Patrick Saah Siapiah; Mulbah Kenneth; Patrick Siaphe and others to be identified were indicted on charges of economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, theft of property, and forgery by criminal Court C due to Armstrong’s allegation against them.

In the course of the trial of the case, the defense lawyers asked the trial court to dismiss the matter over the allegation that the private prosecutor, Armstrong, had earlier been indicted in the same case that he is prosecuting.

The defendants’ claim against Mr. Armstrong resulted in Criminal Court “C” ordering a subpoena of the indictment from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Nimba County against the British national.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/in-singbeh-others-trial-court-receives-subpoenaed-document/

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