Government lawyers have challenged a request by lawyers representing the suspended director of the National Port Authority (NPA) Matilda Parker and her Comptroller Christiana-Kpabar Paelay to grant her a presidential immunity that would protect the two accused women from being tried over their alleged role played in the disappearance of over US$800,000 when they both served in their respective posts at the NPA.
The lawyers also asked Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice to deny the motion without further delay.
Meanwhile, final judgment into the arguments has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 25, 2018.
The lawyers’ disagreement came immediately after their colleagues, representing the legal interest of Parker and Paelay, asked the court to dismiss the government’s charges, which include economic sabotage, against them, because they acted and operated as agents of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf prior to the alleged disappearance and, therefore, should be covered by the same executive immunity that is associated with the presidency.
The executive or presidential immunity prevents an individual from being punished based on any claim of criminality while serving as president of the country.
It is that immunity Parker and Paelay are requesting the court to grant them, because they acted on instructions of Madam Sirleaf, while they were occupying their positions and when the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) claimed they made payments of over US$800,000 to a purported company dubbed Demeah Martin Flomo. This company, which was to provide security training and uniforms, had allegedly won a lucrative contract to dredge several ports, including the Greenville Port in Sinoe County.
In their arguments for denial, the prosecution said that it was President Sirleaf who had enjoyed said immunity and that the former President had suspended Parker and Paelay and subsequently subject them to criminal investigation and prosecution.
Prosecution also argued that Madam Sirleaf may have instructed Parker to carry out certain instructions and that it was in the execution of said instructions that Parker committed the crime.
“Should she not be subjected to criminal investigation?” the state lawyers rhetorically asked.
They further argued that Parker cannot benefit from the “so-called presidential immunity because the principal beneficiary, Madam Sirleaf who should have shielded her, took away said immunity by subjecting Parker and co-defendant to criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution.”
“Because the President knew that acts by Parker and Paelay were contrary to her request for the ports to be dredged and security enhanced; therefore, their request must be denied and they should not benefit from the presidential immunity,” the government lawyers emphasized.