A hearing which was intended to afford Aminata & Sons the opportunity to either accept or deny the multiple criminal charges levied against them has been thrown backward with the petroleum dealer begging for 15 days extension to do so.
They were expected to have appeared before Criminal Court ‘C’ on March 7 to answer to charges laid out in the government’s indictment, which the court attached to a writ of summon that was served them on March 1.
The company was charged with the commission of the crime of economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) procedures and processes.
These charges, government claimed, stemmed from the petroleum company’s role in the disappearance of over US$5 million from the sale of the Japanese Oil Grant that was donated by the Government of Japan to Liberia to boost the country’s economy and social development initiatives.
They were said to have conspired with several former senior public officials, including former Commerce Minister Miatta Beyslow, to increase the price of the oil grant and allegedly distributed proceeds from the additional price among themselves.
Up to the present, there is no conformity as to when the court would reschedule Aminata & Sons’ appearance to answer to the indictment.
After receiving the document, lawyers representing the petroleum company communicated with the court, asking for additional time beyond the March 7 stipulated date, suggesting 15 days.
Justifying their request for more time, the defendant’s lawyers argued that the document is a detailed volume of 15 pages, and the charges were first-degree felonies. They said they needed reasonable amount of time to be able to adequately respond to all the allegations.
“As alleged co-defendant and co-conspirator with the other defendants are ordered to present credible defenses to the charges, Aminata & Sons would have to liaise with the other defendants,” the company argued. “As of the date of filing of our request none of the co-defendants have been available for our client to meet with them to discuss the charges.
“The six days period mandate in the writ of summon for our client to respond to the indictment was clearly insufficient for the company to adequately and competently address the allegations in the document and provide proper and credible defense.
“Therefore,” the lawyers pleaded, “give our client 15 days which is adequate and sufficient time to review the indictment and prepare its defense in the document that would grant our client relief.”