State lawyers dropped charges against David Kortie, the man considered as “prime defendant” in a US$12,600 economic sabotage case yesterday at the Criminal Court C.
Kortie, who is the publisher of the Flash Point Newspaper and Jusufu Morris Keita, director of communications and documentation at the Ministry of Public Works were initially indicted by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) on charges of economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property and criminal conspiracy, which government alleged it lost US$12,600.
Apparently, the state action was based on co-defendant Kortie’s public admission and his willingness to restitute his portion of the money to avoid prosecution, a judicial expert told the Daily Observer.
It all started yesterday, when Kortie and Keita were arraigned before Judge Peter Gbeneweleh to answer whether or not they were guilty of the indictment against them.
Surprisingly, before the indictment was read, state lawyers informed Judge Gbeneweleh that they were entering a “nolle prosequi” in favor of co-defendant Kortie.
A judicial source explained that ‘nolle prosequi’ is a Latin legal phrase meaning “be unwilling to pursue,” a phrase meaning “do not prosecute.”
He said it can be used in a criminal prosecution context to describe a prosecutor’s decision to voluntarily discontinue charges either before trial or before a verdict.
Judge Gbeneweleh sustained the request and said, “The submission of the prosecution is in accordance with section 18.1 of the criminal procedural law of 1978.”
After sustaining the request, prosecution again begged the court to have the indictment read to co-defendant Keita, to which he pled not guilty to the charges levied against him.
His response demonstrated that the burden of proof is resting on the prosecution to establish whether or not co-defendant Keita committed the crimes.
Following Keita’s not-guilty plea, his legal team told the court their client had agreed to waive jury trial as provided under law.
“We are doing this because charges against co-defendant David Kotie who is the prime defendant as per the indictment, has been dropped by state lawyers.”
Keita, the LACC alleged, took advantage of his position which charged him with the responsibility to select and recommend a qualified and competent institution to perform media consultancy for the Ministry of Public Works.
Unfortunately, the document claimed, Keita recommended to the Ministry, co-defendant Kortie to provide media consultancy contrary to regulations and procedures and that defendant Kotie admitted receiving the money and not performing the work.