The testimony of a special prosecutor’s witness raised several important questions yesterday when he openly told jurors of Criminal Court ‘C’ that 199 of the 200 pieces of the alleged counterfeit United States dollars all in US$100 bills, at the center of a criminal lawsuit brought against Margretta Dorbor, a former employee of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) by her employer, had been mutilated or damaged.
Interestingly, when Julius Swen testified yesterday, he managed to produce the remaining US$100 counterfeit note and only a photocopy of the mutilated 199 pieces, claiming “It was the only one that has left with us.”
The counterfeit money, believed to be in US$100 bills and valued at US$20,000 was allegedly confiscated from defendant Dorbor in 2011, and subsequently turned over to the Monrovia City Court. Witness Julius Swen is serving as one of its sheriffs (court officer).
What is most confusing is that the money was one of the prosecution’s key evidences to convict the defendant of one of the three crimes, especially counterfeiting.
It begged the question how a court would allow its evidence to be mutilated to the extent that out of 200 only one could be identified.
How would they convince the jurors to believe their justification?
These were questions left with the trial of fact, the jurors.
But, Swen defended that one of the reasons was the transfer of his court from one location to another.
He also added that due to the transfer, all of the court’s important documents were packed into a container at the Temple of Justice.
Swen was made to testify, after the Criminal Court ordered him to appear and produce the counterfeit money that was in the custody of his court, the Monrovia City Court.
The order was based on a request from prosecutors to have officers of that court do so.
Testifying further under oath, Swen explained, “I can recall in February 2011, prosecution presented to the Monrovia City Court 200 pieces of counterfeit United States dollars, all in US$100 bills and valued at US$20, 000.”
Swen further claimed that “Everything has been destroyed or mutilated except for the only one that is in the possession of the court.”
Beside the counterfeit money, defendant Dorbor is also charged in relation to an alleged scam, in which the bank’s management claims she stole over US$100,000.
Under oath, Swen in his testimony alleged that the money got damaged, after the City Court was asked to be transferred to its current location.
“We were operating in the building currently occupied by the Probate Court, when the counterfeit money was given to us,” he maintained, adding, “It was because our current building was under renovation.”
Justifying the cause of the mutilation, witness Swen said that during the relocation exercise, they were constrained to put all of their documents including, the 200 pieces of counterfeit notes into a container, at the Temple of Justice.
“It was at that time, we observed that almost all of the counterfeit money was damaged. Luckily for us we were able to find only this good US$100 note,” he added.