Criminal Court ‘C’ yesterday approved the request made to it by Eugene Shannon, former minister of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) named in the Global Witness bribery report as Big Boy 1, to be included in the US$1.5m criminal appearance bond filed by co-defendant Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County.
Sherman and two other co-defendants, including former deputy minister for the MLME Ernest C.B. Jones’ (also named Big Boy 2) bond was posted by Omega Insurance Company.
The Special Presidential Taskforce that is prosecuting the case earlier argued for Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay not to include Shannon on Sherman’s bond, because it had already been approved by the court, at which time Shannon was not indicted.
However, Gbeisay explained that the taskforce failed to cite any legal ground as to whether an accused of the same crime cannot and is not allowed to benefit from the bond, which has already been approved by the court, at the time the defendant has not been charged.
He said “in the absence of a specific stature or decisional law prohibiting the extension of a criminal appearance bond to cover a defendant who was later indicted for the same crimes at different times at the same court, it would not be expedient to deny such a motion, because the life blood of the law is logic.”
He added, “Since the objective of the criminal appearance bond is to guarantee the defendant’s presence in court and, the bond has been approved by this court that would guarantee the defendant’s day-to-day appearance, it would be irrational or unreasonable to unduly punish or cause hardship to the defendant before he is convicted or acquitted.”
According to Gbeisay, the insurance company that posted the bond for Sherman and his co-defendant communicated to the court and said, they were willing and prepared to extend their coverage over to Shannon.
“Moreover,” the judge said, “co-defendant Sherman and others in whose favor the criminal appearance bond was filed have also communicated to the company that it would appreciate were the said amount extended to cover Shannon.”
Initially, Shannon’s legal team asked the court to allow their client to be included under the US$1.5million criminal appearance bond filed by co-defendant Sherman and other defendants and also approved by the court.
They also argued that Shannon, like other co-defendants, was accused by the Global Witness report and that he and the others were investigated together for the same crimes at the same time.
They maintained that since the report alleged that they misapplied over US$950,000 of which they were arrested and charged, the money is less than US$1million; and since co-defendant Sherman and the others have filed US$1.5 million, which is in excess of the amount they were accused for, to compel him to file a new bond that could amount to an excessive bail, runs contrary to Article 21D (ii) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Shannon and his co-defendants face charges that include economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, facilitation and solicitation.