8 August 2007

Liberia: Supreme Court Decides Bryant's Fate Thursday

The Supreme Court of Liberia, following heated legal arguments in the alleged US$1,397,255,000 theft of property case involving former Transitional Government Chairman, Charles Gyude Bryant, will tomorrow hand down its ruling.

The court sometime this year entertained arguments and counter arguments from both legal representations with the prosecuting party claiming that the former Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant did not serve Liberia as a president but rather as a caretaker and hence should face trial for his alleged crime of theft.

But Bryant's legal team, headed by Cllr. Theophilous Gould animatedly argued before the then Johnnie N. Lewis incomplete bench that Chairman Bryant holds the same right as a former head of state and as such should not face trial.

The lawyers of the former chairman in a writ of prohibition filed to the country's highest legal arbiter furthered argued that the Liberian Constitution under Articles 61 and 62 protects their client from prosecution on account of any action done by him while serving as head of state.

They claimed that the former chairman, as part of his presidential immunities, should be exempted from any legal proceedings as is with the on going one.

The defense lawyers however prayed before the Supreme Court to use its ultimate powers to put halt to the entire trial into the alleged US$1.3M theft case involving the former Chairman, Charles Gyude Bryant.

In counter argument, the state differed with Bryant's legal representations on grounds that the former chairman was never elected by the people but rather selected by a few handful of people to perform a particular piece of job.

The state further disagreed with the defense counsel arguing that the former chairman was never elected as Article 1 of the Liberian Constitution enshrines.

Predicated upon these arguments and counter arguments and after thoroughly looking into the various claims, the Supreme Court of Liberia is expected to finally decide whether or not the former chairman will face trial or will he enjoy presidential immunities and be set free.

In February, the former chairman was indicted for allegedly diverting and squandering US$1.3M of state funds.

The indictment states that the former chairman violated Chapter 15, section 15.5 (a. b and c) of the New Penal Code of Liberia which states that a " person is guilty of theft if he knowingly takes, misappropriates, converts, or exercise unauthorized control, over or unauthorized transfer of an interest in, the property of another with the purpose of depriving the owner thereof."

Meanwhile, former speaker Edwin Melvin Snowe who is also facing corruption charges at the Monrovia Magisterial Court risks being re-arrested after state lawyers challenged his criminal appearance bond.

The Magisterial Court on last Thursday also entertained legal arguments from both Snowe's defense team and that of the state but has reserved its ruling for tomorrow.

The bond of the former speaker was challenged on grounds that the insurance company that filed in for him owes the government taxes and has failed to pay thereby invalidating the bond.

The state in view of the foregoing requested the court to have the former speaker re-arrested and place behind bars until his bond can be properly represented.

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