The lawyers representing the legal interest of former officials of the National Port Authority (NPA), Matilda Parker; former Managing Director and Christiana Pealay; Comptroller yesterday, October 2, 2018 received another blow when Chief Prosecutor and Solicitor General Cllr. Daku Mulbah stood before the court Monday, October 2 at the ongoing trial of the indicted NPA officials at the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice admitted that the state cannot locate most of its witnesses set to testify against the defendants.
Cllr. Mulbah said this during argument on his submission made recently to the court about the absence of the prosecution witnesses from the country who have previously testified in the case at the time it first resumed in 2016 where the two former NPA officials who are facing charges of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy appeared and pleaded not guilty.
The country chief prosecutor admitted that during the course of the first trial of the accused in December 2015 the prosecution produced six witnesses, Blamo Koffa of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Deneah Martin Flomo from the Denmar Enterprise Inc, Daffa Wiles Sunday, G, Wright, Patrick Konneh and Emmanuel Davies who took the witness stand from December 15,2015 to January 15, 13, 22, 25, 27, to February 1, 3, 5 respectively.
“Prosecution says that it has employed due diligence to have its witnesses herein named to re-appear in court and testify in this second trial, for the second time in the matter, and could not locate them and when located or found they expressly stated that they have nothing new to say on this matter other than what have already said on records during their first appearance” said Cllr. Mulbah.
As the result of his assertion made to the court, Cllr Mulbah continued that prosecution wishes to give notice to the court that it does not intend to put on the witness stand new witnesses or documentary evidence besides the ones that they have earlier produced therefore the court should that evidence and testimonies of the six witnesses to form the integral part of the record of the second trial.
Citing the law in respect to his plea, Cllr Mulbah referred to the Supreme Court case: Musa Solomon Fallah vs. RL decided 21 July 2011 which he said in the latter case the Supreme Court opined that the law recognizes that sometimes its impossible to produce a witness who had testified at a formal trial in such case where the second action is between the same parties and involves the same issue.
Still in reference to the case Musa Solomon vs RL ,Cllr Mulbah continued that where the party against whom the evidence is offered had the opportunity to cross examine the witness who gave such testimony is an exception to the hearsay rule and it is admitted on the principal that is the best of which the case admits.
In a counter argument defense lawyer Cllr Arthur Johnson rejects Cllr Mulbah’s request to the court and order the court to deny the submission made by the prosecution as it does not represents the facts in the instant case as the law cited as reference by Cllr. Mulbah refers to an issue in a camera proceeding.
Cllr. Johnson stated that every- thing in the case has changed unlike the previous case as the previous case was handled by a jury while the new case is not a jury trial rather been presided over as bench trial which is being heard by a new judge who is serving as both a jury and judge defacto.
According to Cllr. Johnson prosecution submission that it has employ due diligence to locate all of its witnesses and neither of them can be found, this is a clear admission that was a clear admission that they were not ready to proceed because the entire case rests with the production witnesses and evidence.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing defense counsel prays your honor to deny the prosecution’s submission and order them to bring their witnesses failure to do same this court should dismiss the indictment and all the charges contained herein” said Cllr. Johnson.
Following the argument pros and cons Monday by the prosecution and defense lawyers, Judge Boima Kontoe reserves ruling to be given when there is a notice of assignment being issued by the court.
The indictment of Parker by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County in 2015 and subsequent prosecution stemmed from government allegation made by the former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that the pair between the period December 2011-April 2012 robbed government of over US$800,000 intended to remove wrecks from the Port of Greenville in Sinoe County.
According the then government the work was not allegedly done while the contract was reportedly offered to a bogus company Denmar Enterprise Inc against the Public Procurement and Concession Commission law, the claim the two defendants have since denied.