Liberia: Sirleaf & Weeks Seek Bail – All Five Defendants Spent Third Night In Prison
Monrovia – Two of the five defendants indicted with economic sabotage and misuse of public money amongst other crimes have filed a criminal appearance bond to secure their release pending court trial.
Report By: Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
On Wednesday, Defendants Charles Sirleaf filed an insurance bond with Accident & Casualty Insurance Company (ACICO), while Milton Weeks filed a property bond.
Dorbor Hagba, Director for Banking, Richard Walker, Director for Operations and Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit are yet to file theirs.
Chapter 13.4 of the Criminal Procedure Law “Approval of bond; justification of sureties”- states that the court shall approve a bail bond and release the defendant if prima facie showing is made that the sureties are qualified or that the security offered on the bond is adequate and genuine and as represented by the defendant.
Chapter 13.4 Continues: “If the bond is secured by sureties who are natural persons, the court, on granting its approval, shall require the sureties to present by the following day: (a) a certificate from the clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the real property securing the bond is located, that the bond has been recorded in the docket for surety bond liens as provided in section 63.2(2) of the Civil Procedure Law; (b) an affidavit of the sureties complying with the provisions of section 63.2(3) of the Civil Procedure Law; and (c) a certificate by a duly qualified officer of the Department of the Treasury that the property is owned by the surety or sureties claiming title to it in the affidavit and that it is of the assessed value therein stated”.
Now that two of the Defendants have filed their respective bond, the next step is for the prosecuting attorney to review and probably challenge its sufficiency.
The law provides that a Defendant shall appear in court to be examined under oath about the sufficiency of the bond.
“If the surety fails to appear within the required time or if the court finds the surety insufficient, it shall require another surety in his place. Any surety who has not justified shall remain liable until another surety signs the bond and the bond is approved,” continues Section 13.4 of Liberia’s Criminal Procedural Law.
The bond filed by Sirleaf and Weeks is being reportedly reviewed by Judge Boima Kontoe, and once it is accepted by the prosecution lawyers the pair will be released on bail.
This will allow the two high profile defendants to prepare for what is expected to be a marathon legal proceeding.
How Are Defendants Couping In Prison?
Family members on Wednesday trooped in with many items including fans, mattress, bottles of mineral water, and food supplies.
Visitors include Dr. Ophelia Weeks, ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf brother Carny Johnson and wife, ex-National Investment Commission Chairman O. Natty B. Davis, and staff of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and spouses of the defendants.
The wife of Defendant Sirleaf was seen with a basket of food along with her personal security guards entering the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP).
The family members alleged that the actions against the defendants is selective justice and should not be hail.
‘Sirleaf Not Sick’
At the same time, the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Justice has denied Sirleaf has fallen ill and was taken to the John F. Kennedy Hospital.
When contacted a nurse at the JFK who often treats inmates from the MCP denied that Sirleaf was taken at the hospital on Wednesday for treatment.
However, there is still concern that Mr. Sirleaf health is deteriorating.
On Monday Assistant Justice Minister Eddie Tarawali said Sirleaf “is cool and calmed”
“He is at the facility and in his cell. We are affording him all rights as a pre-trial detainee and so the rumor mongering is mere distraction and propaganda,” he said.
“The only situation with Mr. Sirleaf is that he normally uses his glasses; so, his glasses are given to him whenever he wants to go in the facility.”
Why Are Defendants Facing Criminal Charges?
According to the Presidential Investigation Team’s (PIT) report, the officials of the bank acted criminally by doctoring and fixing reports which were contrary to the actual amounts printed and received by the CBL.
The PIT recommended that they are charged and prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation, tampering with public records and accounting.
The investigation established that CRANE AB, the company contracted by the CBL in two separate contracts to print banknotes totaling L$15 billion at the cost of US$15,331,689.20 conspired with officials of the CBL to defraud the Government of Liberia by ignoring the terms and conditions of the contract and went ahead to print L$18,151,000,000 in breach of the contract. The Government of Liberia incurred an extra printing cost of US$835,367.78.
The PIT also recommended prosecution for CRANE AB.
The five defendants now face first degree felony, which is in violation of Chapter 15, sub-chapter “F” Sections 15.81 (a) (b) (c) and 15.82 (b)(c) of the New Penal Law of Liberia the five Central Bank of Liberia executives are to spend 10 years in a common jail.
The indictment: “That it is from the findings as contained in the report of the investigation conducted by the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) that this indictment grows and not that of Kroll Associates Inc, though its findings are similar to that of PIT.” The indictment drawn by the Grand Jury of Montserrado stated that between April 2016 and up to August 2018, the five Defendants while occupying various positions at the CBL conspired to defraud the CBL and the Government of Liberia when without any authority printed excess Liberia dollar banknotes amounting to 2,645,000,000 to infuse into the Liberian market and without authority paid and caused to be paid the amount of US$835,367.72 to Co-Defendant Crane Currency for said amount.