Liberia: State Prosecutor Requests Time To Cross-Examine Varney Sherman

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Monrovia – Grand Cape Mount Senator Varney Sherman, who is at the center of the  Sable Mining bribery scandal, is expected to be crossed by state lawyers on Thursday, July 4 at Criminal Court C in Monrovia.

Sherman, while giving his testimony on the witness stand on Wednesday, contended that charges against him are based on “witch hunt and political vendetta”. 

Later, prosecution lawyer Cllr. Wesseh Alphonso Wesseh was asked by Judge Peter Gbeneweleh to commence cross-examination of Cllr. Sherman when Defense Counsel Cyril Jones announced that he had rested with the direct examination of his first witness.

However, Cllr. Wesseh begged the court for a day’s excuse in order to review the testimony of the Defense witness before commencing the cross-examination on Thursday, July 4.

“Prosecution also says that considering the lengthy testimony and also considering that the State being entitled to adequate representation, such enlargement of time will allow the prosecution to digest the testimony of the witness,” the Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice said.

Sherman had taken the witness stand on the direct examination from the Defense counsel on Monday, July 1, denying his involvement of receiving money in the amount of US$950,000 from the British Company Sable Mining  to bribe government officials to change the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2010 in favor of firm to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

Cllr. Sherman has considered the charges of economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, facilitation, and solicitation levied against him and the seven others a “witch hunt and political vendetta” masterminded by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because he had accused her government of corruption and nepotism.

The Grand Cape Mount Senator bragged that the state does not have evidence to convict them and called on the Judge to review the indictment against them because it was drawn based on testimonies of two witnesses –  Marc Kollie and Blamo Kofa – of the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC).

His argument against the state comes after the prosecution had submitted 62 pieces of evidence. The evidence was confirmed, affirmed and admitted into the record by Judge Peter Gbeneweleh, who is presiding as judge and jury.

Also in his testimony, Sherman claimed that the Global Witness May 2016 Report, which indicted them, came from Jonathan Grant – the head of the organization – and his associates who were incompetent and had no knowledge of  Liberia Mineral and Investment Laws.

Cllr. Sherman wondered why the prosecution decided to drop charges against Andrew Groves and the Sable Mining on grounds that they did not bribe anyone when the same prosecution has alleged that Andrew Groves gave him money to bribe former government officials to change the PPCC Act.

During Cllr. Sherman’s testimony, his lawyer Cllr. Albert Sims lost an application made to the court to have former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf subpoenaed, so that she may testify on how Section 75 was inserted in the amended PPCC 2005 Act for which the Defendants were accused of.

Judge Gbeneweleh declined to issue the subpoena, saying the presidency was not tied around an individual because when former President Sirleaf left the office, she passed on the PPCC Act to her successor, President George Weah

The Judge added that the court was paralyzed to issue a subpoena to the current President to testify and that doing so would violate Article 61 of the Constitution, which provides that the President is immune from prosecution.

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