The Alliance of Pro-Democracy and Civil Society Organizations have described the dismissal of criminal indictments against former Commerce Minister Miata Beysolow and former LPRC Managing Director T. Nelson Williams II as a victory for justice and the rule of law in Liberia.
A press statement issued yesterday signed by six civil-society organizations commended Judge Emery Paye for recognizing the fact that the court is guided by the fundamental principle of law which holds that the purpose of prosecution is not necessarily to convict, but to ensure that truth and justice prevail.
The Alliance of Pro-Democracy and Civil Society Organizations expressed disappointment about the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s (LACC) omission or failure to show any modified investigative report containing augmented evidence when the Ministry of Justice refused to prosecute those accused of wrongdoing.
“We strongly believe that this was an illegal indictment based on falsehood, envy, and witch hunting. According to records reviewed, there was no evidence for LACC to indict; the evidence adduced by the Commission was manifestly inadequate and illegally developed by Verdier and his legal team,” the statement said.
The statement also said that after LACC forwarded the names of Williams, Beysolow and others in 2013, the Ministry of Justice, the prosecuting arm of the government, refused to proceed with prosecution because the LACC did not present any evidence or facts linking the accused persons to corruption.
“Additionally, after three years from 2013 to 2016 the LACC was given the opportunity to bring evidence of corruption. It was unfortunate that the LACC indicted these dedicated public servants without bringing any facts or evidence,” the statement said.
The Alliance of Pro-Democracy and Civil Society Organization “will use this medium to state categorically that the LACC’s final investigative report did not include anything criminal. They only included administrative errors with penalties and remedies for corrective measures.”
It was only after the Ministry of Justice decided not to prosecute that LACC “falsely, maliciously and illegally crafted a criminal indictment not giving any notice or warning to the defendants to respond.”
The statement said, “If Liberia is to make significant progress in the fight against corruption, it is important to note that the institution charged with the responsibility to undertake this task (LACC) must refrain from acts and practices that will derail the credibility and integrity of the institution.”
The statement was signed by Morris A. S. Swen Sr. (Free Conscious Independent and Objective Thinkers of Liberia), Moses M. Mulbah (Movement for the Restoration of Accountability and Transparency), Robert Brewer (Crusaders for Democracy and Good Governance), Amos B. S. Kanneh (Societal Reform Initiative for Peace Building Network), D. Ambrose Kieh (Liberia Integrity Watch Forum), and Fannie B. Johnson (Women United for Justice and Peace).
In reaction, the LACC said the fact that the cases were dismissed by Judge Emery Paye did not mean the LACC was wrong and had lost those cases. “Our problem with the court is how the law is interpreted that is based on their own interests; and though Beyslow and Williams were released, the LACC has an option and those cases will be decided by the Supreme Court,” stated LACC’s Chairperson Cllr. James Verdier Jr.
He told a team of journalists last Friday in Monrovia that the LACC is not discouraged with cases that have been turned down and is willing to fight back stronger than ever. He admitted that the LACC is using the weakness of the law to fight against endemic corruption, and the case is not over yet.
Verdier noted that bench trials being used by Judge Paye, though lawful, put authority in the hands of one person, and Liberians should not fault the LACC when its cases suffer judges’ decisions without realizing that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of justice in the LACC’s determination to fight corruption reportedly perpetrated by people who have the responsibility to ensure proper accountability to the Liberian people.