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Liberia news

Original Documents Lost in US$4m-case

The clerk of the Monrovia City Magisterial Court, Francis Weah, says original documents “are presumed lost or missing,” after being subpoenaed at Criminal Curt “C” by the prosecution concerning the whereabouts of the original charge sheet and voluntary statements of defendants in a US$4m case.

“At the time, these documents were forwarded to the court; those ones that were brought before us were transcribed and forwarded with the original statements could not be found. Hence, they are presumed lost or missing,” Mr. Weah testified yesterday, February 2.

The criminal circuit Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, which is higher than the magisterial court, is hearing the case with multiple charges against four former employees of the First International Bank Liberia or FIB, ranging from theft of property to money laundering, forgery, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.

The indictment was drawn against ten former FIB employees surrounding the charges mentioned, but others were said to be on the run while a few of the indictees available include Jermain Tegli, Africanus Freeman, Robert Cummings and Aurelia Tamba.

The accused have since pleaded not-guilty to the indictment drawn against them early 2015, following their arrest for their alleged transactions carried out while in the employ of the First International Bank between January 2012 and February 2013.

They allegedly approved hundreds of dormant accounts and withdrew monies without the knowledge or participation of the alleged accounts holders. Following the brief testimonies of two subpoenaed state witnesses yesterday, the defense counsels representing the indictees requested the court for one week adjournment to enable them thoroughly examine and acquaint themselves with the prosecution’s exhibits.

“Further, the defendants did not have any knowledge to form the belief after two terms of court during which time the [prosecution] did produce both documentary and testimonial evidence before Your Honor and this court,” the defense counsels pleaded with presiding Judge Peter W. Gbenewelleh.

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In defense to the plea with the court yesterday, the counsels said their request was not made in bad faith, but intended to ensure that when they take the stand, they would be able to traverse prosecution’s exhibits.
The state lawyers did take any objection to the request made by their counterparts, and the court immediately granted the defense’s request, assigning the case to Tuesday, 9 February at 10am.

By Winston W. Parley

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