The ongoing Global Witness alleged US$950,000 bribery case involving several past and present public officials, including Senator Varney Sherman, is on its way to the Supreme Court, following last Tuesday‘s judgment by Criminal Court ‘C.’
The prosecution’s decision to take the matter to the Supreme Court stemmed from Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay’s stance not to accept their request to have the controversial e-mails and spreadsheets marked permanently to be included as their oral and documentary evidences.
In his stance, Gbeisay declared that the spreadsheets and e-mails will be marked temporarily, pending the arrival of Heine van Niekerk, who is the major participant in the alleged e-mail exchanges that prosecution listed as one of its witnesses, and informed the court during argument that he would be brought to testify.
Gbeisay’s judgment was: “On the question of conversation referred in the e-mails between defendant Varney Sherman and Klaus Piprik with regards to co-defendant Alex Tyler, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, demanding a payment of US$250,000, making reference to Tyler, a third party, in his absence is a true hearsay. But, said statement may be admitted not necessarily for its truthfulness, but for the fact that such statement was made.”
These were some of the wordings in the judgment that prosecution relied on to take their case to the Supreme Court, arguing that they were not interested in having Gbeisay to continue with the matter.
Outlining their reservations, state lawyers argued that for the court to demand them to produce their own witness, Heine van Niekerk, to appear, “It means that Judge Gbeisay was in error; even when he ruled that every precaution should be taken to ensure that the defendants have maximum opportunity to prove their innocence.”
“The judge was also in error to say that van Niekerk made a grave allegation against the defendants and that was an error for the court to accept that the alleged conversation between co-defendant Sherman and Klaus Piprik with reference to co-defendant Alex Tyler was a hearsay.”
Prosecution had argued that the e-mails and spreadsheets were voluntarily given to the government investigative team by Heine van Niekerk, Sable Mining’s West Africa director, with whom co-defendant Sherman had the series of e-mail exchanges.
Sable Mining is a UK based mining company that the Global Witness report claimed gave over US$950,000 to have the defendants, including Tyler, to change the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act to award the Wologizi Mountain to the company without going through the competitive bidding process.
In support of the argument, prosecution claimed that their investigators obtained a notarized affidavit in which van Niekerk confirmed the contents of the e-mails, and said he gave the documents to the Liberian government under an immunity agreement.
Despite those clarifications, Gbeisay maintained that Heine van Niekerk should appear in person to testify about the documents, which prompted prosecution’s action to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention.