The possibility for the government to succeed in its legal battle against former National Port Authority (NPA) managing director, Matilda Parker remains uncertain due to the death and resignation of most of its key witnesses from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), who had earlier testified, but the matter was adjourned after prosecution raise issued of juror tampering.
Defendant Parker and her former Comptroller, Christiana Pealay, were indicted by state prosecutors based upon the conclusion of an investigation conducted by investigators of the LACC for economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation for allegedly awarding a contract worth over US$800,000 to dredge the Greenville Port in Sinoe County to a bogus company.
They went on trial in early 2016, but the case was adjourned after prosecutors alleged that someone had tampered with some of the jurors in the trial after a letter was reported to have been intercepted by one of the court officers assigned with the jurors at the time of sequestration.
There were three key investigators of the LACC who were used by the prosecution as prime witnesses when the case was first heard in 2016 and unfortunately one of them, Appleton Artis, has died.
Artis’ family members by then attributed that to his dismissal and subsequent refusal by the commission to pay him the just salary thereby leaving him in total frustration that resulted in his death.
Another witness, Blamo Koffa, then chief investigator of the LACC was forced to resign his post because of administrative reasons, but many employees of the commission blamed Koffa’s resignation on the alleged failure of the commission to commensurate his performance with that of his salary and bad administrative practices.
Currently, the whereabouts of Aaron Davis remains a mystery for the prosecution.
But, with the broadest implications as to what the prosecution’s case will be like going forward, the Criminal Court “C’ yesterday opened the case in respect to the mandate of the Supreme Court that asked them to resume jurisdiction of the mater.
The Supreme Court’s action resulted when they affirmed the judgment of Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokolie and subsequently ordered the disbandment of the jury, which set the stage for a new trial on charges that Parker allegedly robbed the government of US$837,950 since 2017.
During yesterday’s hearing, the indictment was for the second time in a roll read to the defendants and they again pleaded not guilty of which shifted the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove their guilt.
shortly afterward, the prosecution made a submission where they pleaded for the matter to be heard by a jury panel, but that request was resisted by the defense lawyer Arthur Johnson who asked for a bench trial, meaning that Judge Boima Kontoe, should now serve as both jury and judge.
The defense’s resistance later received the backing of Kontoe.