A legal argument as to whether or not charges of bribery must be dropped against Andrew Grove and his Sable Mining Company intensified yesterday at Criminal Court ‘C,’ with Judge Emery Paye suspending his ruling.
Judge Paye did not give any date to hand down his ruling after defense lawyers and prosecutors rested their presentations.
Andrew Grove and his Sable Mining Company were indicted along with several former and present government officials, including Speaker Alex Tyler, for allegedly bribing said officials to change the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Law to avoid any bidding process to enable them obtain the approval for mining of the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.
The indictment was also based on a Global Witness report implicating them having paid over US$900,000 to change the PPCC Law.
Grove’s and Sable Mining’s legal team, the Justice and Peace Interest Consortium, yesterday argued that their clients are not Liberians and they are not employees of the Liberian government or members of the National Legislature to change any laws. Therefore, they argued, they cannot be held responsible for lawmakers to change their country’s laws.
Besides, they said the court lacked extraterritorial jurisdiction to try their clients, because they are not Liberians and are not under the country’s jurisdiction.
They claimed that there is no extradition treaty between Liberia and Great Britain, and there is no legal basis to have their clients brought back to the country for prosecution.
In counterargument, prosecutors said that, though the defendants were non-Liberians and not government officials, they offered and paid money for the performance of an official duty of the lawmakers. Furthermore, their action helped to create an opportunity for people to defraud the government, which is a serious crime under the Liberian law.
Responding to the defendants’ argument that they were not involved in lawmaking, prosecutors clarified the defendants committed a crime of bribery, of which they do not have to be Liberian citizens to commit.
Prosecutors also contended that the defendants cannot be tried in absentia, since they have not been brought under the jurisdiction of the court, “so there is no need for their lawyers to ask for dismissal of the indictment.”
“We have not served them with the writ of arrest, the indictment and other relevant legal documents to have them extradited to Liberia for their prosecution,” Cllr. Daku Mulbah, lead prosecutor of the Global Witness bribery scandal, said.
He maintained that there is an extradition treaty with the government of Great Britain, dated back to the 1800s, leaving both countries to exchange intelligence and security information.
Further Cllr. Mulbah claimed that evidently the defendants interacted, designated and appointed Cllr. Varney Sherman as their legal counsel and Sherman’s report to them revealed that they facilitated changing the Act.