Liberia: National Port Authority Ex-Manager, Co-Defendants Waive Right to Jury Trial

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Monrovia – Lawyer representing the legal interest of former National Port Authority Managing Director Matilda Parker and former comptroller Christiana Paelay has waived their right to jury trial.

They will, therefore, be tried by a bench trial, which means, the judge will sit as judge-jury de facto to decide both issues of facts and law.

The Defense lawyer made the request after state prosecutor asked the court to order its sheriff and the office of the jury management to advance names of prospective jurors to be selected and sworn in to serve as trial of facts.

Cllr. Arthur Johnson said state prosecutor application was inconsequential on grounds that there is an ongoing jury trial in the court, which by law prohibits another jury trial.

The request was granted by the presiding judge of Criminal Court “C” Boima Kontoe.

He said the though the constitution provides for a jury trial, it is more of a right of the one standing trial.

Prior to the court granting the defense request, the clerk of court Knowles Shain read the indictment to the defendants and both pleaded not guilty.

The Special Grand Jurors for the County of Montserrado indicted the defendants along (CEO) of Denmar Enterprise, Deneah M. Flomo who is now serving as state witness for allegedly robbing the government of US$837,950.

According to the indictment, the action of the three defendants is in flagrant violation of Chapter 15, Sub-chapter “F”, Sections 15.80(a)(b)(c), 15.81 (a)(b) (c), and 15.82(b)(c), of the New Penal Law of the Republic of Liberia.

The indictment indicated that between the period July 2011, up to December 2012, while in their respective positions, co-Defendants Parker and Paelay, made fraudulent payments from the accounts NPA for the removal of wrecks from the Port of Greenville valued at US$500,000.

The payments also covered the provision of security consultancy at the ports of Monrovia, Buchanan, and Greenville with a value of US$300,000.00 respectively. But the indictment noted that in the payments for security consultancy, an additional amount of US$37,950 was included.

It added that all transactions were without the approval of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) thus preventing “no objection” to sole source the two contracts as is required by the PPCC Act.

The indictment further indicated that the contract for the removal of wrecks from the Port of Greenville did not meet the approval of the Liberia Maritime Authority since the work was marine-related.

Of all the payments made, no work was done, but there were reports submitted by the accused.                                  Meanwhile, Judge Kontoe has rescheduled the case for next Tuesday, September 18, 2018.

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