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Liberia news

Power outage holds court ruling hostage

Power outage at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia hindered normal judicial proceedings on Thursday, 14 July, with a ruling in a key economic sabotage case involving former Commerce Minister Miata Beysolow being postponed.

Power outage

The former minister is challenging an economic sabotage indictment asking the court to dismiss an indictment against her. Her request for the court to dismiss the indictment came after being granted separate trial for economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement and Concession Commission or PPCC procedures and processes.

The Clerk of Criminal Court “C” Mr. Knowles W. Shain, Sr. told judicial reporters who had assembled at the court on Thursday to hearing the ruling that the court could not make ruling on Thursday due to the lack of power, noting that ruling would be delivered on Monday.

The Judiciary’s Acting Public Information Director Mr. Zitoe Slabeh said the two heavy duty generators being operated at the Temple of Justice were down; and the small stand-by machine that was in use could not supply other courts except the Supreme Court which he said was handing down opinion yesterday July 14.

Madam Beysolow and former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC Managing Director Mr. T. Nelson Williams; LPRC’s former deputy managing director for operations Mr. Aaron J. Wheagar and Commerce Ministry’s former director for the division of price analysis and marketing Mr. Steve Fahn-Paye were jointly indicted by government on a charge of economic sabotage.

The indictees face accusations of allegedly for allegedly depriving government of US$5,764,110.84 which is a portion of US$13,083,350 from proceeds of a Japanese Oil Grant to Liberia. After being granted separate trial, her counsels requested the court to dismiss the indictment against her over claims that she was not in the country at the time the alleged crimes were committed.

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The counsels contended that Madam Beysolow did not face any investigation prior to being indicted, as they made efforts to convince the court to dismiss the indictment. Earlier in a request for separate trial filed with the court in April, Madam Beysolow’s counsels including Attys. Henry T. Nagbe, Sr, Kunkunyon Wleteh and Jonathan T. Massaquoi specifically raised contentions that prosecutors did not link her to a specific offense throughout the indictment.

The defense claimed that unlike other defendants in the case whose offenses have been pointed out, prosecution accused Madam Beysolow of allegedly conspiring and conniving. In Count Four of the indictment, the prosecution said Madam Beysolow and Paye conspired with Mr. Williams, Wheagar and implementing agent of the Japanese Oil Grant and Aminata and Sons in August 2011 … and deprived government of US$3,908,367.25.

But the defense noted that when a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU was being signed by the Commerce Ministry and others, Madam Beysolow was not in the country. Concerning the LACC’s action against the alleged scandal, the defense claim that the entity’s investigative report recommended administrative action against Madam Beysolow; but the LACC clarified in court that it withdrew such report and conducted criminal investigation that resulted to the indictment of the defendants.

The defense concluded that by pressing criminal charges against Madam Beysolow, prosecution was stopping the function of the president to carry on administrative action against Madam Beysolow. However, prosecution lawyers including Atty. George H. Dahn, Cllr.Tarweh S. Johnson and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC’s Othello S. Paymah argued that Madam Beysolow’s role was to supervise and ensure that the cheating that was ongoing at the Ministry of Commerce did not occur. The prosecution contends that failure to reverse the action of her deputy was “a conspiracy of silence.”

By Winston W. Parley

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