Parker, Paelay Acquitted: Court Drops Charges Against In Marathon Trial
Monrovia – Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice Wednesday, April 10, 2019, dropped charges against former National Port Authority boss Matilda Parker and Comptroller Christiana Paelay.
Report By Kennedy L. Yangian klyangian @Frontpageafricaonline.com
Supporters of the two female defendants jubilated on the grounds of the Temple of Justice following the court ruling. But the two acquitted former NPA bosses declined to make comments.
It had been a marathon trial with several procedural and alleged ethical issues, drawing the attention of the media and the public alike ever since the case began more than three years ago.
Finally, the court ruled for the defendant: “Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the indictment against the Defendants is hereby dismissed without prejudice to the state and it is hereby so ordered, ” said Judge Boima Kontoe.
Prosecution, accordingly, can now take an appeal to the Supreme Court but with the recent happenings in the case, many legal experts say it is most unlikely they’ll make such move.
Former NPA Managing director Matilda Parker and Comptroller Christiana Paelay were indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County in May 2015 after the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission charged them for economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation.
The pair indictment was drawn out of the LACC’s claim that they allegedly used the name of a bogus company called Denmar Enterprise to squander over US$800,000 from the port coffer intended to dredge wreck from the Port of Greenville in Sinoe County but the work was never done.
In 2015, the pair first appeared in court for hearing and up to February 2016 and they pleaded not guilty to the indictment drawn against them by the LACC hereby joining issues with the state to prove its charges against them.
But after the testimonies of the government’s three witnesses, the case was adjourned and the trial jury disbanded after an investigation by the court into the prosecution was accused the trial jury of tempering.
By September 27, 2018, the case resumed with a plea from the prosecution lawyer to the court to have the testimonies of the previous witnesses and documentary evidence accepted.
The prosecution lawyers claimed they were unable to locate some of their witnesses and those that could be found were not willing to come forward to the court to testify.
Presiding Judge Boima Kontoe accepted the state’s submission to the court but defense lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson rejected the prosecution’s plea, adding that if the court accepts the prosecution’s plea the Defendants will not get a free, fair and transparent trial.
Cllr. Johnson after rejecting the prosecution’s plea appealed to the then Justice in Chamber Sie-Nyene Youh, who heard the plea and ruled against Judge Kontoe’s ruling and mandated the judge to proceed with the case but with a new witnesses and documentary evidence to be produced by the prosecution.
As the case again resumed on March 14, 2019 prosecution lawyers again made another request to the court asking for time to produce its witnesses.
However, in his ruling when the case resume on Wednesday, April 10, this year without any prosecution witness, Judge Kontoe said that the Supreme Court has held opinion in which it has acknowledged that the state must be prepared and ready to proceed with the prosecution of a case against an accused person or Defendants when indicted.
The judge said the court found it difficult to understand the legal and factual basis for the prosecution’s application for continuance/time.
According to Judge Kontoe, the prosecution has miserably failed to show good cause why the case should be remanded to the Supreme Court.