Gov't in Extradition Quagmire

Senate Secretary Nanborlor Singbeh.

As deadline approaches for Czech citizens wanted for prosecution in Liberia

The government may likely miss the deadline as requested by the Republic of Croatia to process the extradition orders of former Czech Honorary Consul to Liberia, Karel Sochor, due to disagreement among senior officials of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Sochor is wanted back in Liberia to join the Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Nanborlor Singbeh, to face trial on the alleged commission of multiple crimes that include economic sabotage, theft of property and forgery.

The charges are in connection to the alleged duping of two Czech Republic investors, Pavel and Martins Miloschewsky, between 2013 and 2017, at which time Sochor served as a mediator between the Czech Republic brothers and Singbeh, wherein the Miloschewsky brothers transferred US$5 million in cash and mining equipment.

It can be recalled that the Republic of Croatia, on June 25, wrote the Interpol Section of the Liberia National Police (LNP) informing it about the arrest of Sochor in their country.

In that letter, the Croatian Government told the Liberian Government that Sochor was arrested on June 19 of this year, based on the Liberian Interpol “Red Notice”.

They also notified that a Competent Court, the County Court in Zagreb, had already issued a detention order for extradition of Sochor and requested the Liberian Interpol to inform the competent judicial authority, which is the Ministry of Justice, about Sochor's arrest.

The intent is for the MoJ to send extradition documents via diplomatic channels within 18 days to the Ministry of Justice and Administration of the Republic of Croatia with the possibility of extension of the time.

However,  MOJ, according to inside sources, is yet to respond to Croatia's concern as a result of a great deal of division among the Ministry’s senior officials.

Initially, both Justice Minister and Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, and Solicitor General Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, recused themselves from the case since they, in the past, served as lawyers for the Attorney-In-Fact of the Czech Republic investors, the  Miloschewsky brothers, Hans Armstrong.

Their voluntary withdrawal led to the appointment of Counsellor Wesseh Wesseh, the Assistant Minister for Litigation, as lead prosecutor, but the appointment has left Wesseh in complete limbo and may not have the leisure of time to have Sochor extradited to Liberia.

This development seems to have a serious impact on the case, and it means that the government would miss out on the 18 days as requested by the Republic of Croatia for the submission of the diplomatic extradition documents to give that country the legal standing to send Sochor back to Liberia to stand trial.

This is because extradition orders to or from the country cannot be processed as they require the signature of the Justice Minister.

Therefore, with the unfolding situation at the ministry, Minister Wesseh faces limitations due to his limitation to collaborate with his bosses that shifted the opportunity to him to prosecute the matter.

The source did not mention names of anyone, like Justice Minister Dean or Solicitor General Cephus, to have been involved with disagreement. However, Cllr Cephus, while in private practice, served as a lawyer for Sochor, while he, Sochor, served as the Czech Republic Honorary Consular General to Liberia.

The concern that remains unaddressed is whether the Justice Ministry will put the interest of the country’s investment climate against anyone’s personal benefit, or defend it.

And, if the time were to expire without the requested documents being submitted by the ministry to the Republic of Croatia how would the Czech Republic investors, the Miloschewsky brothers, regard the justice system?