Court Accepts E-mail Evidence On Condition

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L-R: Fonati Koffa lead prosecutor of the GW scandal, Former House Speaker Alex Tyler and Senator Varney Sherman

Criminal Court ‘C’ yesterday temporarily agreed to admit into evidence the controversial e-mails and spreadsheets gathered by Global Witness to be used against former House Speaker Alex Tyler and several present and past public officials, including Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County.

The temporary acceptance of the evidences was to give the government the opportunity to ensure that South African witness Heine Van Niekerk will appear in court to testify, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay declared when he ruled against the defense team’s objection to the documents.

Judge Gbeisay did not give a definite time on the appearance of Niekerk, but asked for the continuation of the case.

Niekerk was the person whom the GW alleged furnished them with the information regarding the e-mails and spreadsheet exchanges between the defendants while serving as an executive of Sable Mining, a UK mining company at the center of the Wologizi Mountain saga.

The GW bribery report alleged that “the defendants received bribes in the amount of over US$950,000 from Sable Mining to alter the Public Procurement Concession Commission procedures (PPCC) law to award the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County to the company without going through a competitive bidding process.”

They also alleged that Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, then Liberian lawyer of Sable Mining, communicated the distribution of the bribe by means of the e-mails, which information was leaked by Niekerk.

Before Judge Gbeisay’s decision, the defense team however argued that admitting the Global Witness evidence obtained via a breach of domestic laws is against the principle of ‘comity between nations,’ which is a principle of international law that recognizes that States must respect each other’s domestic laws.

They further argued that security data was stolen by the GW and that the documents in the alleged bribery report should not be used as evidence in the trial.

Liberia’s legal system provides that evidence obtained illegally cannot be used against an entity (such as a person, corporation or State) in a criminal trial.

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