‘I Received Death Threats in US$3.4M Claims’

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Judge Eva Mappy Morgan heads the three-paneled bench of judges of the Commercial Court in Monrovia.

Judge Morgan says as she purges Cllr. Gongloe et al of contempt charges

A Court hearing intended to afford Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe and two other lawyers the opportunity to defend themselves against a contempt charge slapped on them by Judge Eva Mae Mappy Morgan, yesterday took a strange but happy twist, with the lawyers being purged of the contempt charge levied against them by Judge Morgan of the Commercial Court.

Gongloe’s law firm was hired by one Amos Brosius, owner of Ducor Petroleum Incorporated (DPI), to represent his legal interest in a case brought by the Monrovia Oil Trading Company (MOTC) against Brosius, in which the company sought the Commercial Court’s  approval to compel  Ducor Petroleum to make proper accounting of US$56 million worth of petroleum products allegedly supplied to it.

MOTC is owned by Italian businessman Charles Carron and James Sirleaf, one of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s sons.

While awaiting the determination of the matter, Brosius,  according to Judge Morgan, used several media outlets, including the Costa Talk Show on Roots FM, a local radio station, to falsely accuse her of withdrawing, without the consent of the parties,  an amount of US$3.4 million from the account of the Ducor Petroleum at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), which was being held in escrow pending final determination of the matter.

Judge Morgan has since denied the allegation, challenging Brosius to provide any documentary evidence in support of his claim against her.

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, the parties (MOTC and DPI) as well as their respective lawyers, entered into and signed a Memorandum of  Understanding (MOU) in which they agreed that none of the parties would ever discuss the matter outside of the court pending its outcome as well as its merit and demerit.

Unfortunately, Brosius, according to Morgan, appeared on the Costa Show where he allegedly incited the public against her by claiming that she was a “rogue and does not desire to live.”

“He had been on that incitement spree where they have been successful in tarnishing my hard-earned reputation for the last 500 days without the lawyers reacting to it,” Judge Morgan said yesterday in open court.

At one point, Judge Morgan claimed that people believed to have been acting on the approval of Brosius, went to her Providence Baptist Church in search of her.

“Sometime back, Costa used his show to call on the public to shoot me over my role with the disappearance of the US$3.4M. Even Costa himself said he was going to shoot me wherever he met me,” Judge Morgan claimed.

“For fear of my life, the government managed to assign officers of the Police Support Unit to protect me,” the Commercial Court judge disclosed.

It was against this backdrop that the court, headed by a three-judge panel, unanimously held Gongloe and his colleagues, that include Cllr. Philip Gongloe, a brother to Tiawan, and Cllr. Momolu Kandakai in contempt and subsequently threatened to jail them for 20 days.

Cllr. Gongloe with supporters following his ordeal on the prisoner’s bench

During the hearing, Tiawan Gongloe, who spoke on behalf of the other two lawyers, implored the court to purge (remove) the contempt charge and allowed them to go home and practice their profession freely.

Gongloe maintained that they were not behind the behavior of Brosius to tarnish the image of the court and Judge Morgan.

Imploring the Court to purge them of the contempt charge, Cllr. Gongloe prayed the court to  exclude imprisonment of lawyers as part of its punishment.

“The Court can use other punishment like fine, suspension and disbarment, and not to just concentrate on sending lawyers to jail,” Gongloe stressed.

He meanwhile said at no time in the over 30 years of his law practice has he been involved with any act that would tend to undermine and bring the reputation of the court to public disrepute.

“I will not disrespect this court and any other courts in the country and will not do it at any time,” Gongloe noted.

having been released by the court, Cllr. Gongloe was escorted on foot to his Ashmun Street office on by student activists in show of solidarity.

Following Gongloe’s submission, Judge Morgan, in her ruling, observed the presence in Court of a number of senior lawyers of the Supreme Court Bar who had pleaded with the Court to “temper justice with mercy” in favor of defendants Gongloe and company.  In acquiescing to their plea, Judge Morgan however warned that the Court will no longer tolerate further acts of such nature by Gongloe’s clients.

Moments following Judge Morgan’s announcement declaring the lawyers purged of the contempt charge, a crowd of people, who had trooped into the Court to observe the proceedings, broke into chants and victory songs. At their insistence, they marched with Gongloe from the courtyard of the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill through the streets to the Gongloe law offices on Ashmun Street in downtown Monrovia, singing victory songs and chanting battle cries. For a moment, according to a longtime activist, the entire episode seemed rather surreal (strange, unusual), with echoes of the march to prison in 1975 of the Revelation editors on whom the Supreme Court had levied excessive fines and sent to jail pending payment of the amends.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. $3.5 Million allegedly cannot be accounted for from the escrowed amount, and the presiding judge, Cllr. Morgan could only say she didn’t tamper with the account, yet failed to launch an investigation to ensure the money is still intact? Something is very unsettling about this. Any clean judge would be furious and concerned about not only the fidelity of the amount in question, but especially their reputation and therefore launched an investigation into the matter to ascertain the that the money is still intact. This makes me regret why I didn’t study law too, in order to be able to acquire millions in such cool manner. Could there be any oversight institution to investigate this alleged malpractice, if not broad daylight robbery? Only in Liberia!

  2. Hilary Snyder, you are an educated citizen, stop complaining, go and do your own sleuthing to unearth the facts; or if you are so outraged by Judge Morgan supposedly nonchalant response, hire a private detective.

    • So Mr. Moses, what power or authority would you ascribe to me in that suggested “sleuthing” role? Will the bank divulge information to me just like that as a private citizen, compared to not only the authority but the right of this judge to information ascertaining the fidelity of the money in question? What is sad and disgusting about your kind of advocacy as far as common interest is concerned, is the fact yours is always erected on self-interest. While others are striving to cultivate an egalitarian society wherein freedom, democracy, social justice, rule of law, equal access to opportunities, etc., are the guiding principles, people like you are dedicated to pursuits geared toward personal aggrandizement. Many of us are not only disappointed but become very frustrated when we hear of people who we thought were partners in the building of the egalitarian society described above. People who once advocated for change and the opportunity to effect those yearnings but when given the opportunity, they exhibit those same despicable vices sometimes even worst than the rate before. Never heard of any previous official, judge, etc., in the first republic, for example, that embezzled this much money in one scoop. $3.4 Million? Too much roguishness and with impunity! Mind you, these are the very vices that give rise to anti-democratic tendencies as the recent senseless mayhem which effects we are still reeling from today. We don’t want a repeat of that gruesome experience ever again! People like you Mr. Moses, should therefore spare us that horrific possibility, moving forward. Thank you.

  3. “Cllr. Gongloe prayed the court to exclude imprisonment of lawyers as part of its punishment.” You mus be jesting Gongloe. Are lawyers above the law or better than others? If even judges and presidents can be sent to prison if impeached and convicted, of course, lawyers as well SHALL BE JAILED when held liably responsible or criminally responsible, as prescribed By law.

  4. What is wrong with the people in Liberia? To see a lawyers encourage such a mad man attitude on the street of Monrovia, because he asked the judge to ” remove contempt charge and allowed them to go home” and practice their profession freely” for him to get a bunch of stupid people to march behind him in the street of Monrovia, is so stupid. So what happen to this Amos Brosius who go on the air and threaten a Judge, why is he not arrested and put in jail, only Liberia can this happen. Also can a person walk into a bank in Liberia and just withdrawal any amount he or she want to? specially US$3.4 million, how did they leave the bank with so much cash? If it truth that this amount was withdrawal, was the judge name on the account, or this man just got on the radio and started to lie on this judge. Finally if he lie on this judge, there should be some kind punishment for Mr. Amos Brosius

      • Mr. Russell,

        I do not understand why would you say that this is “bullshit”! This is a normal thing for a lawyer to implore a judge to remove contempt charges, and she rightfully did so because there was no evidence that Counselor Gongloe was involved in the malicious interview of his client. Yes, Ernest is also right that Amos should have been jailed maybe not for “falsely or truthfully” accusing a judge; but if he threatened one on national air, that is a whole different ball game. We cannot condone that wild-wild west attitude in a struggling democracy. It is easy to determine if ALL the money is still in the bank. If it is not, where did it go, who withdrew it and why and how would someone, easily withdraw money that is being held in escrow? These are legitimate, logical and serious statements. So I do not see it as “bullshit”. And will we have with every little statement, people parading in the street and “maybe” causing some interruption of already tough traffic we have there and singing battle songs some self aggrandizement? All this has to stop. Not every little statement, people should be jumping and parading in the streets. But as the saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. Find these kids some work to do.

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