What was expected as a hearing to determine the merit and demerit of the US$750,000 criminal appearance bond posted to prevent Speaker Alex Tyler from being jailed yesterday turned sour when a lead prosecutor protested his bail and subsequently described him as “flight risk.”
A flight risk is a defendant who is likely to leave the country to avoid prosecution, which prosecutors allege defendant Tyler falls in that category.
Tyler’s bond was secured by Sky Insurance Company, of which prosecution was demanding the court to set it aside because it was allegedly defective and it does not meet the legal requirement under the law.
Cllr. Theophilus Gould’s description of defendant Tyler as a flight risk came immediately when a defense lawyer, Cllr. Johnny Momoh, argued that Tyler is the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the third ranking official within the government and he cannot run away, even without posting a bond.
Accordingly, Cllr. Momoh further argued that he is not a flight risk and, consistent with the constitution and stature, even if he has not posted a bond he should have been released and only to assure the court that he would appear whenever his presence is required by law.
Cllr. Momoh’s statement was in response to the prosecution’s earlier request asking Judge Emery Paye of Criminal Court ‘C’ to have Tyler rearrested for his conspicuous absence in the courtroom on the hearing of his bond, which they argued, under the law, was one of the commitments for his conditional release, so that he would appear in court whenever his trial starts.
According to him, defendant Tyler under the law should not have appeared for yesterday’s hearing on grounds that the proceeding was intended for his surety, the Sky Insurance Company, to be examined as to whether or not they have the financial strength to post the bond, even if
Tyler were to escape, during the hearing of his trial.
Cllr. Momoh’s defense of Tyler’s speakership annoyed Cllr. Gould of which Gould was heard saying in the courtroom, ”Tyler is a flight risk because he presides over the House of Representatives with a quorum and his colleagues have lost confidence in his leadership and they are no longer attending sessions.”
Cllr. Gould continued, “He is a flight risk, because his essence as a speaker is no more significant and so he needs to be here to attend to his hearing, so that if his bond is believed to be defective he can be sent to jail and remain there until his lawyers can file a new criminal appearance bond.”
“We are afraid that he could easily run away, if his bond is not handled properly and his insurance company would not be in the positon to repay the money he has allegedly stolen,” Cllr. Gould justified his statement.
Judge Paye was then compelled to reschedule the bond exception and justification hearing to Friday, but ruled out any possibility for defendant Tyler to be present during his bond hearing.
Speaker Tyler and several past and present government officials were recently accused by Global Witness of receiving bribes aimed at awarding the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County to UK-based Sable Mining Company, as an iron ore mining concession.
He was arrested and indicted but posted US$750,000 criminal appearance bond to prevent him from being sent to jail, but to appear in court whenever his presence was needed, of which prosecution argued he failed to honor yesterday.