Judge Blamo Dixon, presiding over an alleged misapplication of over US$800,000 at the National Port Authority (NPA), yesterday announced that he will not allow President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to appear before the Criminal Court ‘C’ to testify about a letter she purportedly wrote to former NPA Managing Director, Matilda Parker, for wreck removal at the Greenville Port, in Sinoe County.
Judge Dixon’s assertion comes in the midst of intense argument yesterday between state lawyers and Parker’s defense team that opposed prosecution’s second witness, Deneah Martin Flomo, from answering a question about the president’s letter on the wreck removal to the NPA management.
In a response after the parties rested with their respective arguments, Judge Dixon said, “The court is constrained to sustain the objection made by the defense, on grounds that the President is privileged from court’s proceedings, while she is still sitting as President of the Republic of Liberia.”
Judge Dixon said “To allow the witness to answer the question, means that both parties can subpoena the President to appear in court, and this court has no jurisdiction to issue said precept against a sitting President.”
The Judge based his statement on Article 61 of the 1986 Constitution, which sates: “The President shall be immune from any suits, actions or proceedings, judicial or otherwise and from arrest, detention or other actions on account of any act done by [her], while President of Liberia, pursuit to the provision of this constitution or any other law of the Republic.”
The article continued, “The President shall not however be immune from prosecution upon removal from office from the commission of any criminal act done while president.”
The argument started when prosecutor Cllr. Daku Mulbah, who is also County Attorney for Montserrado County, asked the court to allow the state’s second witness, Deneah Martin Flomo, to explain a statement about a letter Parker claimed President Sirleaf wrote to her, when she appeared at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation.
Cllr. Mulbah quoted Parker’s and Paelay’s statements by saying “the NPA went into an agreement with you, Deneah Martin Flomo, when the President of Liberia expressed concern about the situation at Greenville Port, in Sinoe County, and in particular the president listed that the NPA needed to take action necessary to expedite the removal of sinking vessels and dredging of the Greenville Port, which communication from the president permitted them after 30 days to enter into an agreement with you, Deneah Martin Flomo.” He wanted to know what he did.
However, a member of the defense Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, in counter argument said the question was not for the witness and must wait for the appropriate time.
Cllr. Bull further said, “It is our witnesses who made the statement before the LACC and they are the one that would explain it when they take the witness stand.”
Meanwhile, co-defendant Deneah Martin Flomo whose charges were dropped in exchange of his testimony, earlier testified that he supplied US$2,000 worth of stationeries on credit to the management of the National Port Authority (NPA), and received a check of US$250,000, in his name, which he encased at the Vai Town Branch of Ecobank-Liberia.
During cross examination yesterday, when asked by defense lawyer, Cllr. Musa Dean, if he asked what the US$250,000 was given to him for, instead of the US$2,000, he responded: “I did not ask, reason being that I was accompanied by the NPA, Comptroller Christiana Kpabar Paelay.”
Again, when Cllr. Dean asked him whether, in his sound business judgment and experience, having supplied stationery to several establishments or entities, being accompanied by the comptroller to receive US$250,000 from the Ecobank-Liberia was sufficient consideration or work done of which he did not ask any question, he replied:
“Well, sometime when you pre-finance and you are called upon for payment, your client or the person, who you supply sometime tell you to go with someone at some places to get some money, which will be more than what you supplied.
“I am saying this to say that during my stationery supply, I was sometimes accompanied by a person, whose checks was made in their names and the money they deducted my money paid me, so for this reason, when I saw US$250,000 check in my name, I did not ask question, I was only particular to receive my stationery money, which they gave me US$3,000.”
Cllr. Dean also asked Flomo whether he was given a delivery note when he supplied the stationery, Flomo responded in the negative.
When asked to explain how he came into contact with defendant Parker the prosecutor’s second witness said that he came in contact with the NPA management, when he was introduced by a broker at the NPA he identified only as Matthew.
When he was asked how long he knew Matthew, Flomo replied “I knew him like four months,” but did not know his last name.