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Supreme Court overturns decision in GW case

In a 68-page ruling, Justice – in – Chambers Philip A. Z. Banks has ruled that the decision of Judge Yammie Quiqui Gbeisay was an error to have placed a temporary mark on emails, spreadsheets and Global Witness report presented by the State to be admitted into evidence while presiding over Criminal Court “C”.

The ruling from the Chamber Justice came Thursday, 15 June after arguments have been heard at the Supreme Court upon the filing of a writ of certiorari by prosecutors in the ongoing US$950,000 economic sabotage trial against several past and present Liberian officials and U.K.-based Sable Mining officials.

The government was seeking the issuance of a pre-emptory writ of certiorari, after Judge Gbeisay placed temporary mark on emails and spreadsheets submitted by the state, and demanded the appearance of Sable Mining’s Heines van Niekerk in court here before a permanent mark could be placed on the instrument.

“As to whether the Judge erred when he ruled on the objections of the respondent by placing temporary marks on the contested documents, we have held that there was error”, Justice Banks says.

He adds that the writ of certiorari will lie to correct the ruling of Judge Gbeissay, ordering the clerk of the Supreme Court to send a mandate at Court “C” below, directing the judge presiding there to resume jurisdiction and proceed with the matter.

The specific instruction from the Supreme Court is that the motion to rescind is granted and the ruling of March 20, 2017 that placed temporary marks on the contested documents is reversed.

The Chamber Justice says permanent marking will be ordered placed on the documents so that their credibility can be determined at the proper time by the court.He says a judge can only refuse to mark a particular piece of evidence identified and testified to on the basis of its “being irrelevant or mark same on the basis of its relevancy” and submit it to the jury for the evaluation of its weight.

“Applying the principles of law to the case at bar, Judge Gbeissay’s primary duty at that particular stage of the trial was to determine whether the contested documents were relevant and if he found in the affirmative, he was under obligation to mark same and admit it into evidence to decide upon its weight at the disposition of the case on the merits”, he concludes.

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