Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice is expected to rule on a request by government lawyers to subpoena Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman and former Senate Pro Tempore Cletus Wortorson’s bank statements, in what could mark a first major court decision into ongoing investigation against a Global Witness report linking several officials to bribery scandal.
The governing Unity Party Chair and Grand Cape Mount County Senator Sherman, and House Speaker Alex Tyler were separately arrested on Wednesday, 25 May after defying President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Special Investigative Taskforce to submit to inquiry surrounding an alleged over US$950,000 bribery scandal reported by U.K.-based watchdog group Global Witness.
Sen. Sherman is now cut between two criminal courts with one expected today Monday, 30 May to decide whether or not his bank statements should be subpoenaed as requested by the Taskforce, while the next court dwells specifically into multiple charges levied against him and several others in a five-count indictment.
Following heated argument last week surrounding a quest to have Sen. Sherman and his law firm Sherman and Sherman Inc., former Sen. Wortorson, and others’ bank statements subpoenaed from several commercial banks at the Criminal Court “A”, the court said it would rule today, Monday, 30 May.
His lawyer Cllr. Cyril Jones and former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott, who represents former Sen. Wortorson, contended that granting a subpoena when no matter was pending at Criminal Court “A” would violate their clients’ rights, though the state has rejected this argument.
While the officials were still awaiting the Court’s decision, they were shockingly slammed with an indictment before Criminal Court “C” which led to the arrests of sitting House Speaker Alex Tyler and Sen. Sherman and, subsequently turned over at Criminal Court “C” where they filed bonds before their release the same day, Wednesday, 25 May.
Speaker Tyler and Sen. Sherman are among several current and past officials accused by Global Witness in a report of allegedly requesting and accepting bribes from a controversial U.K.-based mining company Sable, which allegedly sought to change Liberian laws to be awarded the Wologizi Mountain mining contract.
Sen. Sherman along with Ernest C.B. Jones and a Nigerian national Chris Onanuga jointly filed a US$1,500,000 bond at Criminal Court “C”, while Speaker Tyler separately filed a US$150,000 bond upon their arrests last week.
As per the court process, the indictees may be arraigned with the indictment when the case is called based on assignment in order to ascertain their plea. Some of those accused by Global Witness have submitted themselves before the Special Investigative Taskforce since it started operation, but Sen. Sherman and Speaker Tyler both preferred a direct court process other than a taskforce inquiry.
Government’s first attempt at Sen. Sherman’s home and law firm met resistance from some supporters of the ruling Unity Party of President Sirleaf.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne