Liberia: Prosecutors Want Judge Out of Central Bank Economic Sabotage Case
Monrovia – Prosecution lawyers in the economic sabotage case involving five Central Bank officials are requesting the Supreme Court Justice-In-Chamber to prohibit Judge Peter Gbeneweleh from hearing the motion to justify the bonds of the Defendants.
Report by Kennedy L. Yangian, [email protected]
This latest request from the prosecution surfaced when the Judge was expected to hand down a ruling into the said motion on Monday, June 3, but he could not.
Prosecution’s petition was filed to the Supreme Court Justice-In-Chamber Joseph Nagbe.
Judge Gbeneweleh’s ruling could have centered on whether to endorse the bonds of the five Defendants or reject the bonds and give the Defendants time to augment their bonds.
The prosecutors’ petition to the Justice-In-Chamber alleged that the five Defendants including the former Governor Milton Weeks were jointly indicted for (LRD 2,645,000,000.00) Liberian Dollars bank notes and (US$835,367,72) and were required to post a criminal appearance bond in the tone of ½ of that combined total.
The state lawyers added that if the Liberian Dollars bank notes of (2,645,000,000.00) alone is divided by the CBL money exchange of L$160 to US$1.00 the amount in United States Dollars will amount to US$16,531, 250.00 and when this amount is divided among five Defendants means that each Defendant is required to post the bail bond of US$3,306, 250.00).
According to the prosecutors, Defendant Weeks only posted a property valuation bond that is equivalent to a paltry sum of a little over US$900,319, while each of the other Co-defendants posted the bond equivalent of US$60,000 which clearly demonstrates that the entire bond which has been filed by the Defendants is far less than the US$2 million.
The state lawyers further stated in the petition that the former Judge of the court Boima Kontoe, who was in charge when the five Defendants were arrested, acted in error when he signed the bond without taking into consideration the statutory requirement.
The lawyers argued that this conduct was a judicial act that cannot be overturned by the current Judge Gbeneweleh, and for him to continue the motion to justify the bond amounts to a review of the decision of his predecessor is illegal.
The petition, signed by Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin Martin and Director of Financial Crimes Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo called on the Justice-In-Chamber to prohibits, inhibits and restrains Judge Gbeneweleh from further hearing the motion as the former Judge acted in error that cannot be set aside by him and doing so could be illegal.
“ That your honor will set aside the bail bonds filed by the Defendants and order that they be made to file a new bail bond consistent with the amounts charged in the indictment or be imprisoned until they can file a new bail bond,” said the state prosecutors.
In the wake of the state lawyers’ writ of prohibition, the Justice-In-Chamber will have to schedule the case where there will be hearing to be followed by a decision.