Drama unfolded yesterday in the ongoing US$20K counterfeit case in Criminal Court ‘C,’ involving a former female employee of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and the bank, when one of her lawyers asked two of her witnesses not to testify on her behalf, a request that was accepted by presiding Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh.
Defendant Margretta Dorbor is on trial for her alleged role in the disappearance of over US$100K from the bank, as well as for being in possession of 200 pieces of counterfeit United States dollars, all in US$100 bills, valued at US$20K.
It all started yesterday when everybody, including Judge Gbeneweleh, was seated, waiting for defendant Dorbors’ lawyer, Atty. P. Jagba Nah, to introduce his two defense witnesses, Ijeoma Okeke and Angeline Leo.
Okeke and Leo were both in the employ of the bank and close friends of defendant Dorbor. However, Dorbor alone was accused of being in possession of the US$20K counterfeit banknotes, which the bank alleged were discovered under her desk at its Gardnersville branch, where she served as a new accounts officer.
Dorbor is also accused of withdrawing over US$100K from customers’ accounts at the bank, though the bank management admitted that she was a teller but was not authorized to do so.
Interestingly, Atty. Nah stood up from his defense seat in the quiet courtroom and informed Judge Gbeneweleh that he had an application to make before his witnesses could take their positions to testify.
Judge Gbeneweleh then gave him the opportunity to make his request, and surprisingly Atty. Nah announced that he was no longe interested in the testimony of Okeke and Leo.
“They have failed to cooperate with me and I am afraid that their testimony could make the case difficult,” he said.
Judge Gbeneweleh again accepted Atty. Nah’s application and disallowed the testimony of defense witnesses Leo and Okeke.
Immediately after the court’s action, Okeke and Leo, who should have been the only persons to support defendant Dorbor’s initial testimony, walked out of the courtroom.
Their action left their friend and co-worker in total disbelief and shock as she bowed her head.
Judge Gbeneweleh also dropped the contempt of court charge that was levied against Okeke and Leo for their initial refusal to appear before the court to testify on behalf of defendant Dorbor after they had been subpoenaed.
A subpoena is a court order requiring a person to appear at a legal proceeding, at a place and time designated. If an invited person fails to appear as ordered by the subpoena, he or she may be found in contempt of court and sanctioned with jail time and fines.
Besides dropping the contempt charge, the judge again trashed the writ of arrest earlier issued against them.
Another curious circumstance in the case is the failure of the prosecution to produce all of the 200 pieces of counterfeit United States dollars all in US$100 notes.
Out of the 200 counterfeit notes, prosecution managed to produce only a single US$100 bill and claimed that the remaining 199 pieces were destroyed.