The decision whether or not to allow the government to use the evidence provided by Global Witnesses to prosecute Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman and two other codefendants now rests with Judge Emery Paye of Criminal Court C.
Judge Paye will make that decision next week, though he did not give a specific date, after listening to prosecution and defense arguments.
The ‘Motion for Dismissal of Indictment’ was filed by the defense, representing Senator Sherman, E. C. B Jones (former Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy) and Christopher Onanuga, a Nigerian businessman.
It did not include Speaker J. Alex Tyler Sr. and Sable Mining Company of the United Kingdom, also indicted based on the Global Witness evidence, because they obtained separate lawyers.
Judge Paye’s decision will be very crucial, because if he agrees with the defense’s argument that Global Witness evidence, on which the indictment was drawn, was hearsay, the defendants would be declared free. Otherwise, Sherman and his colleagues would go on trial.
But if the government fails to try the case during this August term of court, the defense under the law can also file another motion to dismiss the indictment for failure to commence the case, because they were indicted during the May term of court.
The law states that ‘If the defendant is not tried during the next succeeding term after the filing of the indictment, they have the right to request for dismissal of the charges.’
During their argument, the defense explained that an indictment is intended to give plain, concise and definite statement of facts essential to give the defendant a fair notice of the offense charged in the document, including a statement of the possible time and place of the commission of the offense.
They further argued that the document is insufficient to meet the requirement under the law for an indictment, and it also contains defects and unnecessary allegations, making specific reference to defendant Onanuga.
The indictment against the four defendants states that between the period of 2010 and 2011, they, through various communications and each being strategically placed in various positions, with the support of the Sable Mining Company, criminally, willfully requested and gave more than US$900,000 to perform their respective duties.
It further alleged that codefendant Ernest C. B. Jones, Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy at the time, requested and allegedly received US$5,000 for providing technical advice for the alteration of the law, while Speaker Tyler allegedly received US$75,000 for conducting the smooth passage of the Amended Procurement and Concession Commission Law, containing the provision for the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy to have the power to declare a concession area non-bidding (Article 75) to create an easy passage for the awarding of the concession agreement of the Wologizi Mountain.
According to the indictment, Cllr. Sherman, being the alleged mastermind of the crime (of economic sabotage) and with full knowledge, treaded a dangerous path to obstruct every effort to retrieve credible records and interactions with persons who were part of the conspiracy to send and receive cash for the achievement of the objectives.
It added that the codefendants induced and persuaded one another to engage in acts which they knew constituted the commission of a crime under the laws of Liberia. The defendants’ acts, according to the indictment, are contrary to 4LCR title 26, Section 12.50 and section 10.3 of the Statutory Laws of Liberia.
The indictment said Montserrado County Grand Jury found out that Varney Sherman, ECB Jones, Christopher Onanuga, Alex Tyler and Sable Mining Inc. committed criminal solicitation, a felony of the first degree.