Failure on the part of lawyers prosecuting the Global Witness bribery scandal to make available all evidence in their possession to defendant Alex Tyler yesterday was enough for Criminal Court ‘C’ to give prosecutors a ten-day ultimatum to produce the documents.
They were requested to produce evidence in order to enable Tyler, Bomi County District#1 Representative, to prepare his defense against the charges.
Meanwhile, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay granted Tyler’s request and warned prosecutors to make disclosure of all evidence in their possession against the five persons accused in the Global Witness allegation.
“Prosecution is hereby instructed to make available the evidence as demanded by defendant Tyler within ten days, effective as of December 26, with the exception of the bank accounts which are still being contested,” declared Judge Gbeisay.
“The court may view failure (to comply) as sufficient grounds to dismiss the charges levied against Tyler,” Gbeisay stated. “It is not debatable that Tyler is entitled to disclosure of evidence against or in his favor, which evidence is supposed to be in the possession of the state.”
Before Judge Gbeisay’s decision, state lawyers argued that they cannot produce the evidence now on grounds that co-defendant Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm that together with Tyler are to be jointly tried have refused to turn over their bank accounts, which the defendants used to transfer the money to commit the alleged bribery, despite Criminal Court A’s (where they were indicted) judgment for them to do so.
The case was later transferred to Criminal Court ‘C.’ Senator Sherman appealed to the Supreme Court on that judgment, which is yet to be decided.
Further to that argument, prosecutors said if Judge Gbeisay cannot force Sherman to withdraw his appeal, it means they (defendants) are not serious about (prosecution) disclosing the evidence so that they can proceed with the merits or demerits of the case.
They also argued that bank accounts were material and relevant pieces of documentary evidence for the prosecution to go ahead with the case.
The Special Presidential Task Force setup by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to prosecute the defendants initially boasted that it has in its possession sufficient evidence to convict Tyler and Sherman.
They made that revelation at a press conference in July this year after representatives returned from the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa in hunt of evidence.
Tyler together with Senator Varney Sherman, Ernest C.B. Jones, former Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Christopher Onanuga and Sable Mining, a UK based company, were indicted for the commission of bribery, criminal conspiracy, solicitation and facilitation and economic sabotage.
Defendant Tyler, according to the Global Witness, allegedly received a bribe in the amount of US$75,000 to favor Sable Mining Company to have access to iron ore rich Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.