MONROVIA, Montserrado – Judge Peter Gbenewelleh Criminal Court C has agreed to government lawyers’ request to use previous evidence and witnesses’ testimonies in an ongoing retrial of past and present government officials in the Sable Mining bribery case.
The case was previously being heard by Judge Yarmi Gbeisay, who was then assigned at Criminal Court C.
Gbeisay had decided to temporarily mark email evidence that prosecutors had submitted after defense lawyers contended that the email was hacked. This meant the judge was neither accepting nor rejecting the evidence but could make that decision later.
The trial was halted after prosecutors petitioned the Supreme Court to review the judgment from the lower court, which they argued made an error when the email evidence was not accepted. After nine months, the Supreme Court confirmed prosecutors’ request and redirected Criminal Court C to take jurisdiction over the case and resume the trial.
Grand Cape Mount’s Sen. Varney Sherman, Former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Bomi’s Sen. Morris Saytumah, businessman Christopher Onanuga, and others were indicted in 2016 for allegedly receiving US$950,000 in bribe to change a public procurement law in favor of the British company Sable Mining to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa.
The eight defendants were charged with bribery, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, facilitation and solicitation in connection with the Sable Mining bribery scandal, but they have pleaded not guilty to the crime.
However, one of the prosecution lawyers, Wesseh A. Wesseh, has asked the court for up to Friday, June 21 to allow them to prepare its third witness, Aaron Aboah, a former employee of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
Judge Gbenewelleh accepted the request, given that defense lawyers did not object.
“The submission made by the prosecution is hereby granted. The hearing of this matter is assigned on Friday, June 21st at 9:00 a.m.,” Gbeneweleh said.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah