Following his denial for separate trial on 2 August, indicted House Speaker J. Alex Tyler ran back to Criminal Court “C” with a new motion for “disclosure and access to evidence,” asking the court to direct prosecutors to disclose evidence out of which he and several others are facing multiple charges.
Speaker Tyler and former ruling Unity Party Chairman H. Varney G.Sherman, Ernest .C.B. Jones, Nigerian national Chris Onanuga and U.K. – based Sable Mining and its officials are jointly facing charges, including bribery and economic sabotage after Global Witness linked them to a bribery scandal for mining laws to favor Sable Mining.
He claimed to be entitled to the evidence in the possession of the prosecution in order to enable him prepare an adequate defense against charges brought against him, particularly given the fact that the state had said it had sufficient evidence to prosecute him and others charged.
Global Witness had claimed that Sable Mining allegedly bribed several past and present Liberian officials over US$950,000, out of which he’s being legally confronted with alleged US$75,000 question – a payment the British mining firm allegedly sought to get non-bidding contract (the Mount Wologizi Mine) in its favor.
In the latest motion filed by the House Speaker, he argued that Section 17.2 of the Criminal Procedure Law here provides that the court, on motion, may direct that books, papers, documents or other things designated in a subpoena duces tecum be produced before the court at a time prior to the trial or when they are to be offered in evidence.
Making reference to a U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Speaker Tyler said the government’s obligation to disclose material evidence to the accused is pertinent not only to the accused preparation for trial, but also to his determination of whether or not to plead guilty.
In justifying his demand for the prosecution’s evidence, Mr. Tyler recalled that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Special Taskforce set up to prosecute the case at bar held a press conference in July claiming to have “in its possession sufficient evidence to prosecute” him and other defendants linked to the Sable Mining bribery syndicate.
The provision also suggests that upon production of such instrument, they may be permitted to be examined and copies be made by the parties and their attorneys. Mr. Tyler contended that the law (21A Am Jur 2d section 1270 Criminal Law) requires the prosecution to disclose evidence that is material to either guilt or to punishment irrespective of the good or bad faith of the prosecution.
“Further, the Supreme Court of America has held in the case: Pennsylvania vs Ritchie … (1987) that the government has an obligation to turn over evidence in its possession that is both favorable to the accused and material to guilt or punishment,” Mr. Tyler argued.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by George Barpeen