Senator faces 72hrs ultimatum
Grand Kru County Senator, Albert T. Chie, has been ordered by the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia to file a new bail bond within 72 hours, in granting him permission he had requested last week, to file a new bond.
Seantor Chie and dozens of ex-officials, who worked at the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL between May 2006 and May 2007, have been indicted on multiple criminal charges by the Government of Liberia for allegedly defrauding the State of US$120,400 from NOCAL before he got elected to the Liberian Senate last December.
But the senator, like some of his co-indictees, have been filling papers aimed at presenting sureties at the Court “C” where most of their sureties continue to meet resistance from prosecutors with request that the court should order a re-arrest and incarceration of defendants with ‘defective bonds.’
The list of indicted former officials include NOCAL’s ex- President, Dr. Fodee Kromah; former Education Minister, Dr. D. Evelyn Kandakai; former NOCAL Board Chairman, Clemenceau Urey, Sr; Cllr. Stephen B. Dumbar, Jr.; Peter B. Jallah Jr; former comptroller Fulton Reeves; former Senior Accountant, Mr. Timothy G. Wiaplah, 52nd Legislative member Alomiza Innos-Bar and legislative staff Mr. J. Nanborlor Sengbeh, Sr.
During argument Tuesday, March 10, 2015, prosecutors pleaded with the court to deny Senator Chie’s original bond in which Sky International Insurance Corporation stood as surety; and additionally begged the court to deny his request to file a new bond of US$125,000 guaranteed by Omega Insurance Company and ordered his re-arrest and incarceration.
While challenging Senator Chie’s original bond filed February 25, 2015, the State had expressed fears that his surety – Sky Insurance Company, had filled numerous bonds to secure the release of many defendants, amounting to US$14,551,311 plus L$72,000, while its bank balance as at January 2013 was L$3,019320.57.
Having filed this resistance at the court on February 28, 2015 in the statutory period of three days required, the State however failed to serve its resistance on the defendant as well as the surety, until Monday, March 2, 2015 when it only served the surety outside the statutory period.
As to defendant Chie’s request for new bond, the prosecution further argued that the fact that he has filed papers, requesting the court to withdraw his original bond to file a new bond, he already conceded that his original bond was defective and therefore the court should order his arrest and incarceration within the time his original bond would be denied and filling of a new bond.
But the defense counsels counter-argued that in as much as they were not served within the statutory period of three days, technically the original bond guaranteed by Sky Insurance Corporation is allowed and the surety is “still liable.”
The defendants however prayed the court to deny prosecution’s exception to their request for new bond because they were seeking to file the new bond to cure whatever defect that may have existed in the original bond.
In his ruling however, Presiding Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh, said, the court “declines” to deny the co-defendant his constitutional and statutory right to bail bond, citing the law providing for the filing of a new bond, additional bond, justification or re-justification of sureties.
He also said the law provides that the surety on the original bond as in the instant case [with Sky Insurance Company] shall be liable till the order of the court shall be complied with.
Judge Gbeneweleh therefore, granted the defendant’s motion to be permitted to file a new bail bond; and ordered him to file it within 72 hours, a period within which the judge said, the Sky International Insurance Company shall remain liable.
He ordered that beyond the 72 hours, the original bond [guaranteed by Sky Insurance Company] will no longer have any effect.
Last week, former Education Minister, Dr. D. Evelyn S. Kandakai, and defeated Grand Cape Mount County senatorial candidate, Dr. Fodee Kromah, jointly filed a motion to justify their bond guaranteed by Sky International Insurance Corporation, and denied all counts contained in prosecutors’ resistance to their bond.
The two defendants similarly argued that prosecutors had three days after receipt of their bail bond to challenge the financial sufficiency of their surety. Instead, the defendants had argued that the prosecution served its written notice of exceptions on the Monvants/defendants on Monday, March 2, 2015, five (5) days after the filling and service of said Criminal Appearance Bonds in violation of Section 63.5 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law.
By Winston W. Parley