… in US$5M Theft Case
Judge Ousmane Feika of Criminal Court 'C had dropped all criminal charges against Senate Secretary Nanborlor Singbeh, who was charged with economic sabotage, theft of property forgery, and criminal conspiracy.
Singbeh and his co-defendants were indicted with the above-mentioned crimes by the Ministry of Justice based on a complaint from Czech brothers and investors, Martin and Pavel Miloschewsky, relating to the operation of the company, MHM Eko Liberia. The Czech Republic-owned company was owned by the Miloschewsky brothers, with 35 percent shares each, while Singbeh held the remaining 30 percent share.
Judge Feika’s decision to dismiss the Indictment came days after Singbeh's legal team asked the Judge to drop all charges against him since the state indicted Hans Armstrong, a British national, during the February 2020 Term of Court in Nimba County for theft of property and forgery.
And barely one court term after Armstrong was indicted during the May 2020 Term of Court, it was when Singbeh was indicted along with his co-defendants, Ecobank and Afriland First Bank, in the US$5 million case for economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery, and criminal conspiracy.
Judge Feika, when dismissing the case, said, “This Court, therefore, finds it difficult to understand and it is troubling to comprehend that the same State that indicted Armstrong in Nimba County, barely one court term before, is the same State that proceeded to indict Singbeh and his co-defendants without first concluding the initial Indictment against Armstrong in which Singbeh and his co-defendants are private prosecutors with huge interest at stake."
Giving an overview of the Government’s role in the controversial Indictments, the Judge said that Armstrong was indicted during the February 2020 Term of Court of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County, and a writ of arrest was subsequently issued for his arrest.
Again, Judge Feika noted, Armstrong was arrested on March 6, 2020, and incarcerated at the Sanniquellie Central Prison, while Singbeh and his co-defendants were indicted, during the May 2020 Term of Court, in the Criminal Court 'C,’ in Montserrado County, “barely one court term after Armstrong had been indicted in the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County.”
“The two Indictments, that is to say, the one against Armstrong and the other against Singbeh and his co-defendants, consist of the same parties, in the same subject matter in controversy,” Judge Feika noted. “This court, therefore, holds the rationale that to proceed with this trial would be tantamount to undermining justice, and a complete disregard for the statute.
“The submission by the prosecution for the arraignment of defendants is denied, while the application of defendants’ counsel for the dismissal of the indictment is hereby granted,” the Judge ruled.
By the Court ruling, it could likely take months or even years for the Miloschewsky brothers to get justice. Since Singbeh was indicted by the Ministry of Justice, the Senate and its leadership have failed to have him temporarily suspended from his position to go through the case, despite pleas from the government.
At one point, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, Assistant Minister of Justice for Litigation, argued that the refusal of the Senate to relieve Singbeh, would cast a dark cloud over the country’s criminal justice system. But Singbeh remained in his position until Judge Feika’s ruling.
Meanwhile, Judge Feika added that the indictment, along with the charges contained therein, are accordingly dismissed without prejudice to the State, “that is to say, pending the full conclusion of the criminal charges against Armstrong in the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County.”
“The clerk of this court is hereby ordered to prepare a release in favor of all of the defendants in these proceedings, thereby restoring their rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia,” Judge Feika instructed.
The Judge’s action occurred after one of Singbeh's lawyers and former Solicitor General, Counselor Daku Mulbah, claimed that Armstrong, who is the private prosecutor in the Miloschewsky brothers’ case, was indicted by the same State at the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County.
Besides, Mulbah argued that the State indicted Armstrong for the crimes of theft of property and forgery, which case is pending undecided before the court in Nimba County and, as such, Armstrong is banned and disqualified from coming to institute like action against those who, through the state, have already been indicted.
Cllr. Mulbah’s argument came when Judge Feika was in the process of arraigning Singbeh and his co-defendants to answer to the Indictment the State drew against Singbeh.
Interestingly, the Miloschewsky brothers could not attend the trial because of the COVID-19 restrictions. They, therefore, appointed Armstrong to serve as their Attorney-In-Fact to represent them. They instructed Armstrong to seek justice for the alleged misapplication of the money and equipment in the amount of US$5 million sent to Singbeh for the establishment of a Czech-owned company, MHM Eko Liberia, which money and equipment they were holding Singbeh responsible to account for.