Court Denies Motion to Strike Amended Sable Mining Indictment
Monrovia – The motion to strike the amended indictment by the prosecution in the Saber Mining alleged bribery case has been denied by judge Yamie Gbesay of Criminal Court “C.”
Report by Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo, [email protected]
The motion to strike was filed by the legal team of Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, former Deputy Lands, Mines and Energy Minister E.C.B. Jones, businessman Christopher Onanuga and former PPCC boss Willie Belleh.
Judge Gbeisay, in his ruling, said the motion was denied on grounds as per section 9.4(5) of the Civil Procedure Law. Section 9.4(5) of the Criminal Procedure states that “if a pleading is improperly verified or certified or that if it is verified or certified with the intent to defeat the purpose, such pleading may be stricken.”
He added that the affidavit had many defects.
“In the mind of the court, the wrong caption of the affidavit does not legally affect the legal intent and purpose of the affidavit and more besides, it does not prejudice the interest of the movants in any manner and form. To give the credence to this spider web legal technicality will defeat the end of justice.”
“For example, this motion to strike is now under consideration and the movant’s resistance to the motion to amend indictment are both mistakenly venue before ‘Tamie’ Quiqui Gbeisay, Sr, instead of Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay Sr. If the court were to follow these types of legal technicality, justice – substantial justice – would be miscarried.”
Judge Gbeisay said the statute provides that if a pleading is verified or certified with the intent to defeat the purpose, there is difference between common mistake and intended action.
He furthered that the author of the statute give discretion to the judge in chapter 9 section 9.4(5) of the civil procedure law by use of the word MAY, adding that the court is of the opinion that the motion to strike should not be granted.
It can be recalled a second indictment was filed by the Special Presidential Task Force against the defendants who have been accused of allegedly receiving bribes to change the Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC) Act to award concession agreements in favor of a British Company, Sable Mining, to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.
The first indictment filed by the task force against the defendants who are currently on bail was filed in May and November 2016 respectively.
Those named in the amended indictment are former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, former Deputy Lands Mines and Energy Minister E.C.B. Jones, and businessman, Christopher Onanuga.
Others also named are former boss of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Richard Tolbert; Andrew Groves and Klaus Piprek of Sable Mining; former Land & Mines Minister Eugene Shannon; former Minister of State Morris Saytumah, and Willie Belleh, former Chairman of the PPCC.
The Special Task Force Chief Prosecutor, Daku Mulbah in his motion filed to the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice on February 8, 2017 prayed the Court for count 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 of the May 24, 2016 indictment against the defendants to be amended.
“The criminal statute provides that the court shall permit an indictment or complaint to be amended at any stage of the proceeding to correct a formal defect,” said Cllr Mulbah.
Cllr. Mulbah stated that defendant Sherman encouraged and influenced Sable Mining to pay out money to public officials in the amount of about US$600,000 into accounts at the First International Bank, while during the period of 2010-2011 Sable Mining transferred to Sherman thru the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm the amount of US$440,000.00 as bribe to influence officials to change the PPCC Law of 2005.
Also in April 2010, US$200,000 was allegedly paid by Sable Mining to Sherman for the convention of the ruling Unity Party (UP) while US$50,000 was paid to Richard Tolbert former Chairman of NIC, US $50,000.00 paid to Morris Saytumah and US$50,000 paid to Klaus Pripek.
According to Mulbah in June 6, 2010 a payment of US$10,000 was paid to Willie Belleh, E.C.B. Jones got US$250,000, former Speaker Tyler demanded US$250,000 but was paid US$75,000.00 for the smooth passage of the PPCC Act.
Cllr. Mulbah continued that Andrew Groves was one of the principal master-minds of the entire scheme and businessman Christopher Onanuga consulted, advised and conspired with Sherman to induce government officials.