An appeal to have charges dropped against two ex-senior officials of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) was yesterday denied by the Criminal Court ‘C.’
Defendants Clemenceau Urey, former chairman, Board of Directors of NOCAL and Cllr. Stephen Dunbar former member, Board of Directors, were among eight other senior officials of NOCAL that were jointly indicted for the commission of economic sabotage.
But lawyers representing Urey and Dunbar were pushing for the charges to be dropped against them, on grounds that the state failed to commence prosecution within five years, as mandated by Section 4.2 (a) of the Criminal Procedural Law.
They were initially indicted in 2014, with economic sabotage, bribery and criminal conspiracy by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
Their lawyers further contended that they should not be tried because their prosecution is barred by what they considered as a “statute of limitation”.
However, the prosecution in counter argument appealed to the court to deny and dismiss the request and that the trial must proceed on its merit.
They were charged May 2006 to May 2007 in connection with their alleged involvement in a US$40,000 bribe, offered to members of the 52nd House of Representatives as “lobby” fees.
At yesterday’s hearing, none of the accused, including Urey and Dunbar was at the Temple of Justice, but Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh went ahead to deny their request.
Judge Gbeneweleh stated, “We are in agreement with the contention of the prosecution that this court cannot determine the issue of statute of limitation raised by the defendants, who have not been granted severance (separate trial) from the rest of the eight co-defendants.”
He explained that the defendants and the rest of the other co-defendants were jointly indicted.
“The records before the court revealed that they did not file a motion for severance (separate trial) from the rest of the other eight co-defendants, before filling their motion to dismiss the indictment on grounds that their prosecution is barred by statute of limitation,” he further clarified.
“In fact the determination will definitely have an effect on the other co-defendants, since ten of them were jointly indicted and charged for the commission of the crimes,” he said.
In his conclusion, Judge Gbeneweleh declared, “Prosecution’s resistance is sustained, and the court is declined to determine the issue of statute of limitation and the motion to dismiss the indictment should be and the same is hereby denied and dismissed without prejudice to the defendants.”