Former National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Ms. Matilda Parker and her former comptroller Mrs. Christiana Kpabar-Pailey have waived trial by jury in an economic sabotage case that is being retried at Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice.
During former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s regime, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigated Ms. Parker and Mrs. Kpabar-Pailey for allegedly defrauding government of US$837,950.00. between July 2011 and December 2012.
They were jointly indicted on multiple charges of theft of property, economic sabotage and criminal conspiracy.
But almost nearing the end of the case, the trial was disrupted by prosecution’s allegations of jury tampering.
Family, friends and loyalists of Ms. Parker and co-defendant Kpabar – Pailey were seen in jubilant mood in the courtroom Thursday, 13 September when they heard that Judge Boima Kontoe had granted bench trial in the retrial of the case.
Based on a Supreme Court mandate recently for the reopening of the case, Court “C” read the indictment to the indictees Thursday to begin a new trial.The two indictees pleaded not guilty, thus joining issues with the government.
But their lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson informed the Court that “another jury trial” at Court “C” is prohibited by law because the same court already has an ongoing jury trial there.Cllr. Johnson says the defendants are exercising their constitutional rights under Chapter 3 Article 21 (h) that addresses the rights to jury trial.
The counsel requests that his clients be purged of jury trial and that Judge Boima Kontoe sit as jury de factor to decide both the issues of facts and law.Judge Kontoe has granted the defense’s request, but he has deferred further proceedings in the case to Tuesday, 18 September at 1pm.
The case sparks out of an alleged criminal scheme claimed by prosecutors in which co-defendants Parker and Kpabar-Pailey are accused of having awarded two “sole source” contracts to co-defendant Deneah Martins Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise.
The State says the contracts valued US$500,000 and US$300,000 respectively were allegedly awarded without the approval of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC).
Under the contracts, defendant Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise was to remove wrecks from the Port of Greenville and the provision of security consultancy at the ports of Monrovia, Buchanan and Greenville on behalf of the NPA.
By Winston W. Parley