–As Supreme Court puts Sable Mining bribery case on track
After months of delay, the Supreme Court has now resolved to mandate Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape County to produce evidence that the e-mail which was reported to have been exchanged between him and executives of Sable Mining Africa Limited and obtained from South Africa by the prosecution was actually hacked by Global Witness, the whistle blower.
Sherman, then a lawyer of Sable, had initially argued that Global Witness obtained the spreadsheets and emails by hacking the email accounts of both Sherman & Sherman Law Firm and, because it was obtained through a violation of privacy, such should not be admissible as evidence against them by the prosecutors and should be disallowed.
That argument was backed by then Judge Yarmie Gbeisay of Criminal Court “C,” who refused to accept the prosecution’s request to mark the documents permanently.
Gbeisay argued that he would mark the e-mails and spreadsheet temporarily until the witness, who provided the e-mail, can appear and testify to the documentary evidence as the law provides that defense lawyers must have the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses during the trial.
But, the Supreme Court, in reversing Judge Gbeisay’s judgment, explained that the law says he who makes an allegation carries the burden of prove, “since the defendants had alleged that the emails and other documents objected to were hacked and it was an error by the trial judge (Gbeisay) to have required the state to prove that the documents were not hacked.”
Korkpor said the temporary marking of the documentary evidence is alien to the country’s jurisdiction, adding, “The Writ of Certiorari is the appropriate remedy to correct the action of a judge in the conduct of a trial or to review an intermediate order or interlocutory judgment of a court.”
Meanwhile, the judgment of the court was, on Friday, December 7, ruled open in the presence of both the prosecutors and defense lawyers by Judge Boima Kontoe; the case is expected to resume today.
Prior to Chief Justice Korkpor’s decision, prosecutors had filed before the Supreme Court a Writ of Certiorari where they accused Gbeisay of committing an error when he ruled to temporarily mark an e-mail evidence of the prosecution, which they claimed was a key evidence.
Global Witness, a London-based NGO, in its report claimed that Sherman through emails and spreadsheet exchanges convinced the company to pay US$950,000 as a bribe to change the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Act in favor of the company to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.
The money, Global Witness claimed, was paid to former Speaker Alex Tyler, Bomi Senator Morris Saytumah, former Lands & Mines Minister Eugene Shannon, his then Deputy Minister E.C.B. Jones, former boss of the Public Procurement Commission Willie Belleh, Richard Tolbert, former Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), and businessman Christopher Onanuga,who is believed to be one of the shareholders of Sable Mining.