By Abednego Davis
Criminal Court ‘C’ will today decide whether or not the e-mails obtained from the Global Witness (GW) bribery scandal will be admitted as one of prosecution’s evidences.
The GW report involved former House Speaker Alex Tyler, a business man and several other present and past government officials.
Global Witness claimed that its report was backed by leaked emails and company documents seen by the accused, of which over US$950,000 in alleged bribes paid through Sable’s Liberian lawyer, Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County.
They claimed that at the time of the payments, Sable Mining was headed by British businessmen Phil Edmonds and Andrew Groves.
It was due to that information the government charged the defendants, Senator Varney Sherman and others, with multiple crimes including economic sabotage – the claim the defendants are yet to deny or admit to, following months of delay as a result of pre-trial motions lawyers representing the accused filed.
The argument that will be ruled by Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay today was raised by co-defendant Morris Saytumah’s legal team, who challenged the legality of admitting the e-mails generated by the government as evidence against the defendants.
Saytumah is also a Senator of Bomi County. Prior to his election, he was assigned as Minister of State for Economic, Finance and Legal Affairs in the office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Today’s decision comes just days after Judge Gbeisay warned that he would re-arrest some of the defendants for their refusal to appear for the trial. Although the defendants were enjoying a criminal appearance bond, he fined absentees excluding Tyler and Saytumah, US$200 each.
Though Saymutah’s argument was never contested by the prosecution, Judge Gbeisay requested the parties to select a lawyer each to join him in the court’s chamber where they would handle the matter.
The outcome of the closed door discussion will be delivered by the judge today.
Meanwhile the e-mail claimed that in 2010 the company hired Senator Sherman, as Liberia’s best-connected lawyer and then Chairman of the governing Unity Party, in an effort to secure one of Liberia’s last large mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession in Lofa County, without a competitive bidding process.
Sherman told Sable that in order to obtain the contract, the company must first get Liberia’s concessions law changed by bribing senior officials, according to the e-mail.
It claimed Sherman then distributed Sable’s money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials, including former Speaker Tyler.
“Sable and Sherman paid bribes to change Liberia’s law and get their hands on one of its most prized assets, the Wologizi concession,” according to the e-mail.