LIBERIA: Judge Sammy Steps Aside In Brownie Samukai’s Case Over ‘Personal Connection’
(LINA) – The Presiding Judge of Criminal “C” Nancy F. Sammy has recused herself from presiding over former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai’s case due to ‘personal connection’ to him.
According to Judge Sammy, she cannot preside over the case because she has a personal relationship with co-movant Samukai as they are members of the same church.
“As such I cannot preside over this matter because to do so will be unprofessional on my part as a Judge and it could also compromise my decision. Therefore I do hereby recuse myself from hearing this matter,” Judge Sammy said.
Former Defense Minister Samukai, former deputy defense minister Joseph Johnson and former defense comptroller Nyumah Dorkor have been indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado for their alleged role in the embezzlement of the compulsory savings fund of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
The former officials were indicted on multiple crimes, including money laundering, economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, criminal conspiracy, and theft of property.
The case was brought against the defendants by the Assets Investigative Restitution and Recovery Team headed by Cllr. Arthur Johnson.
AIRReT, as the special team is known, is charged with investigating , resituating, and subsequently recovering funds that were embezzled and misappropriated from the government, as revealed by reports submitted by the General Auditing Commission and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
According to the indictment, in July 2009, the Ministry of National Defense established a contributory savings fund which deducted salaries from all ranks of the Armed Forces of Liberia to serve as a supplementary pension benefit to provide assistance to wounded soldiers and to families of deceased soldiers.
The indictment stated that the former minister misapplied over US$1.2 million of the US$1.9 million deposited during former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime.
The indictment also accused Mr. Samukai of authorizing the transfer of all transactions of the compulsory savings account, except US$16,000,, which was directly paid to one Joseph Gegeh. Gegeh is yet to be identified and the authorization of the amount is still under investigation.
Prosecutors also say US$852,860 was criminally withdrawn by the defendants from the account and expended on activities that were already provided for under the national budget for the Ministry of National Defense.
The defendants made themselves the only signatories to the account, leaving out the AFL Chief of Staff and other higher-ranking officers of the Ministry of National Defense, the indictment said.
During the Judge’s recusal statement, Prosecution lawyers excepted to the Judge recusing herself form the trial of the case.
Defendant Samukai was not present in Court on Monday because he asked for excuse to attend a security program in the US.