New Democrat (Monrovia)

28 December 2012

Liberia: 15-Year for Convicted Pastor?

Convicted Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh who fainted after being slapped with a guilty verdict last week risk a 15-year sentence in a final judgment expected today at Criminal Court 'C' at Temple of Justice here.

In a unanimous verdict last Saturday, the panel jurors of Criminal Court 'C' convicted Pastor Mathew T. Sakeuh and his wife, Plenseh Sakeuh, for stealing US$1 million.

They were accused of diverting the amount in question on three counts of misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and theft of property.

Presiding Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh informed both prosecution and defense lawyers that final judgment in the case will be announced today as provided by law, but details remain a secret of the judge.

Legal experts say that the maximum punishment for such crime is 15 years while minimum could be 10 years.

But with the amount of money involved in this case, Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh would likely face a 15-year sentence.

Meanwhile, defense lawyers Wednesday filed a motion for new trial claiming several errors in the jurors' verdict.

They argued in the motion that the jurors' verdict did not represent the facts which state prosecutors proved in the case to convict their clients for theft of property.

Criminal Court 'C' Thursday confirmed the defense motion for new trial, adding that the motion will be heard before final judgement is made in the case on the same day.

The Grand Jury of Monsterrado Country in March of this year indicted the couple on three counts misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and theft of property.

According to the indictment, the authorities of ABC International instead of securing a new parcel of land, their organization AIEM had acquired 52.76 acres of land which Pastor Sakeuh sold to ABC and transferred the deed to ABC.

ABC agreed based on the suggestion from Pastor Saheuh and his wife and the amount of U$74,000 was transferred to AIEM through an account at LBDI.

The indictment further claimed that the couple received additional U$32,000 for 72.6 acres of land from ABC International as well as U$21,000 which was uncounted for.

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