The possibility of listening to the testimonies of several high profile officials may likely not begin as expected, due to the suspended Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) Matilda Parker’s complaint, asking the Supreme Court to temporarily halt the matter.
The officials in question include former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gbehzohngar Findley, Dr. Nathaniel Barnes, and Morris Dukuly, former chair and vice chair of the National Port Authority (NPA), respectively, and Cllr. Augustine Toe, vice chair of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
The reason for the delay of the officials’ testimonies resulted from Parker and her Comptroller, Christina Paelay’s legal team challenging the judgement of Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Boima Kontoe, where the judge accepted that the prosecution was not compelled to produce any of their witnesses to testify against the defendants.
Sirleaf, Findley, Barnes, Dukuly and Toe are expected witnesses for Madam Parker.
Parker and Paeley resolved to seek Supreme Court’s intervention to reverse Kontoe’s judgment, because, according to them, it lacks any legal basis and should not be accepted as part of the evidence against them.
Kontoe’s action was predicated upon the prosecution’s request to take their witnesses who had testified during the first trial of the case in 2015 and all documentary evidence to be used as part of the case against Parker and Paeley.
State lawyers also argued that those witnesses were out of the country, while others could not be found and they do not intend to use any other witnesses in the new trial, while others have deliberately refused to accept their request to testify again.
In their writ of certiorari, Parker’s lawyer, Arthur Johnson said, that Kontoe’s judgment violated the practice in this jurisdiction which, according to Cllr. Johnson, requires the defendants to be given the right to a fair trial, by a judge or jury, in which the judge himself should be allowed and required by law to examine the witnesses physically.
“The judgment of Kontoe that he did not hear or take and see physically the witnesses who testified in the previous trial, 2016 is a violation of the due process,” Parker claimed.
“Kontoe’s judgment also violated the right to confront adverse witnesses and to recall or subpoena those witnesses on the request of the defendants, and it should be dismissed and denied,” Cllr. Johnson maintained.
The case was first heard in 2016 by Judge Blamo Dixon. Unfortunately it lasted for a short while and was forced to be canceled when the very prosecution complained of jury tampering, which argument then Chamber Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie accepted and subsequently demanded a new trial that is being presided over by Kontoe, a different judge.
By then the prosecution had rested with six of their witnesses who had testified and submitted their documentary evidence to be used against the pair.
The case continues.