Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks yesterday postponed his ruling on whether or not to review Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay’s decision not to mark the Global Witness (GW) leaked documentary evidences as permanent.
After listening to legal arguments from both the defense and the prosecution on the matter, Justice Banks has decided to postpone his ruling for one week.
Gbeisay, then judge of Criminal Court ‘C,’ had earlier refused to permanently mark prosecution’s major documentary evidences contained in an alleged e-mail and spreadsheet obtained from Heine van Niekerk and Paul O. Sulovine (both in South Africa), who are believed to have authored the documents.
Gbeisay also compelled state lawyers to ensure that Niekerk was brought to the country to face the defense team to testify and be cross examined.
That judgment did not go down well with the prosecution who immediately sought Justice Banks’ intervention to review Gbeisay’s action, arguing that the judge was in error.
In the argument yesterday, a member of the government’s lawyers, Cllr. Daku Mulbah, said that the e-mails and spreadsheets were obtained from van Niekerk and Sulovine, who they had given immunity from prosecution.
“Those documents were accompanied by an affidavit and notary that made them legal and qualified as our evidences, even in the absence of the authors coming to Liberia to testify about them,” Mulbah defended his argument.
Daku, who is also County Attorney for Montserrado, argued that Judge Gbeisay was in error by compelling them to only produce van Niekerk, and not bringing along Sulovine.
Prosecution 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.
The document, they alleged, contained e-mails between defendant Varney Sherman and Klaus Piprik with regards to co-defendant Alex Tyler demanding a payment of US$250,000.
In his counterargument, a member of the defense team, Cllr. Cyril Jones, said the e-mails and spreadsheets were obtained illegally, for which van Niekerk and Sulovine should come to Liberia to testify.
Cllr. Jones also claimed that the affidavit was illegally obtained by the prosecution.
Jones explained that to obtain an affidavit outside of Liberia, especially in South Africa, they should have taken the affidavit to the higher court in that country to authenticate it, a legal requirement which he claims the prosecution failed to follow.
Cllr. Jones further explained that to use such an affidavit in the country, prosecution should have first sent the document to the Ministry of Justice to verify it and to subsequently turn it over to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for authentication.
“This is the legal requirement under our jurisdiction and they failed to do so, making the affidavit illegal,” Jones emphasized.
These are some of the arguments Justice Banks is expected to make a decision on next Monday.
Global Witness report claims that Sable Mining, a UK based mining company, gave its Liberian lawyer Cllr. Sherman over US$950,000 to have certain government officials at the time, including ex-Speaker J. Alex Tyler, to change the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Law so that the Wologizi iron ore reserves would be given to the company without submitting it to a competitive bidding process.