Liberia: Prosecutors Plead For Postponement of Matilda Parker Case

Former MD of the Freeport of Monrovia, Ms. Matilda Parker

Monrovia – The new trial for two former officials of the National Port Authority Matilda Parker and Christiana Paelay, who are charged with multiple counts including economic sabotage, began on Monday, March 4, 2019, at the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice.

Report by Kennedy L. Yangian [email protected]

But prosecution lawyers begged the court to postpone the case due to the absence of its witnesses in court.

Prosecution lawyer Cllr. Edwin Martin asked the court for a week in order to bring prosecution’s first of several witnesses.

“Counsel for the state maintains and says that for the production of its witness cannot be held today as the state will need a minimum time of one week so as to get all of its witnesses who will come to this court take the witness stand and testify to the crimes charged against the Defendants,” said Cllr Martin.

Meanwhile, Defense counsel Cllr. Arthur Johnson immediately resisted the prosecution ‘s request and moved that the request is denied because the right to a speedy trial is a constitutional right for the Defendants.

“This trial is the third time that the  Defendants have pleaded not guilty to the indictment hereby joining issue with the state and that the request for a week for continuance is unreasonable,” Cllr. Johnson said.

Judge Boima Kontoe said the request by the prosecution lawyer was “unreasonable” considering the history of the case, which has seen the Defendants arraigned before the court on three occasions.

“Wherefore an in view of the foregoing, the application for continuance is hereby granted with modification, accordingly this trial is re-assigned for Thursday, March 7, 2019 at the hour of 1:00 pm,” ruled Judge Kontoe.

During Monday’s hearing, the two female Defendants again pleaded not guilty to the charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation while they also told the court that they were waiving a jury trial as well.

The charges against the former NPA Managing Director Matilda Parker and Comptroller Christiana Paelay was begun back in 2016 when the pair was accused by the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC) of their allegedly failing to account for over US$ 800,000.

The amount according to the LACC was intended to dredge the Port of Greenville in Sinoe County but the two officials allegedly squandered the amount thru a bogus company known as Denmar Enterprise.

Monday’s hearing comes due to a mandate from the Supreme Court ordering the lower court to proceed with a new trial after it was adjourned based on an appeal taken by the defense counsel against current Judge Boima Kontoe decision to accept the evidence of the prosecution from the previous case. The prosecution told the court that they cannot locate their previous witnesses and those that can be found are not willing to testify any longer on behalf of the state.