Unfolding events at the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice suggests that the Government may likely back-off from the over US$800,000 economic sabotage case against suspended National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Matilda Parker and her former Comptroller, Christiana Paelay.
This is because the prosecution has requested Judge Boima Kontoe to bar their witnesses from appearing in person to testify against the defendants.
Instead, the court should consider the witnesses’ 2015 documented testimonies when the case was first heard and subsequently suspended due to prosecution’s accusation about jury tampering.
Judge Kontoe, meanwhile, indefinitely reserved ruling into the request, after Parker’s legal team argued that it was clear that the prosecution was not ready to proceed with the case.
Their request also set the stage for the dismissal of the indictment and the charges.
When the case resumed on Tuesday, October 2, based on the mandate of the Supreme Court, the new Solicitor General, Daku Mulbah, who was then County Attorney for Montserrado County and lead prosecutor, raised a very strange legal argument that he cannot locate most of the witnesses they were relying on to testify against the defendants.
Besides, he said, during the first trial in December 2015, they managed to have produced six witnesses, some of whom he named as Blamo Koffa of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Deneah Martin Flomo of the Denmar Enterprise, Inc., Daffa Wiles, Sunday G. Wright, Patrick Konneh and Emmanuel Davies.
“We cannot locate all of those witnesses to testify at this case and even some of those we contacted told us that they had nothing new to explain; and so, we have decided for you to consider their earlier documented testimonies,” the government lead lawyer requested. “We do not intend to put new witnesses to testify or provide new documentary evidence, besides those earlier produced in 2015,” Mulbah maintained.
As for witness Deneah Martin Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise, Inc., prosecution contended that he was the one to whom Parker and Pealay awarded the contract worth over US$800,000 to dredge the Greenville Port in Sinoe County which prosecution claims he did not perform.
Moreover, he was one of the witnesses of interest to have testified at the second case but, he cannot be located, according to the Solicitor-General.
“This attitude towards the matter suggested there had been little or no negotiation with the witnesses,” a legal expert said.
“This has been one of the most humiliating rejections of the new government in recent years, with the new Solicitor-General asking the court to use the old testimonies of the witnesses because they cannot relocate them,” the lawyer said. “Their request suggests that they would change their minds on the prosecution of the defendants, thereby allowing the court to drop the case.”
It all started when the government arranged the first trial of Parker and Paelay in late 2015, but that case was adjourned after prosecutors alleged that someone had tampered with some of the jurors in the trial, following a letter that was reported to have been intercepted by one of the court officers assigned with the jurors at the time of sequestration.
Judge Blamo Dixon, after investigation, removed the four suspected jurors on the panel mentioned in the letter. But prosecution lawyers, headed by Cllr. Daku Mulbah, now Solicitor General, objected to the ruling and filed a writ of “certiorari’ against Judge Blamo’s ruling before Justice-in-Chambers at the time, Jamesetta Wolokolie.
Wolokolie then ruled in favor of the government by disbanding the entire jury in the case. But her decision was challenged by the defense counsel, headed by Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, who later announced an appeal to the full Bench of the Supreme Court against the judgment.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of Wolokolie and subsequently ordered the disbandment of the jury, which set the stage for a new trial on charges stating that Parker allegedly robbed the government of US$837,950.
Prosecutors had earlier alleged that the two accused persons, by awarding two sole-sourced contracts without the approval of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), to Deneah M. Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise on behalf of the NPA for the removal of wrecks from the port of Greenville, Sinoe County, and the provision of security consultancy at the ports of Monrovia, Buchanan, and Greenville, caused the state to lose US$800,000 (the respective price tags of US$500,000 and US$300,000 per contract).