5 September 2013

Liberia: Cockrum's Extradition Begins

The Ministry of Justice has begun the extradition process for dismissed Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Ms. Ellen Cockrum, who holds a US citizenship, and others on allegation of corruption.

Ms. Cockrum is accused of having submitted two requests to the PPCC for "no objection" to single source SSF Entrepreneur Inc and Diaspora Consulting Company for the rehabilitation of RIA's runway and other pavements in the combined amount of US$1,283,333 and over US$ 255,000 proposed for Diaspora Consulting Compamy.

Ms. Cockrum is also alleged to have masterminded a scheme to set up a fake company called Diaspora Consulting Engineering which was heralded as being listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the intention of securing a bid to revamp the Roberts International Airport..

Government has indicted her and accomplices Mr. Musa Bility, former chairman of the LAA, Mr. Moamar Dieng and the Liberia Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI) for the act.

Since the indictment, doubts have been rife here that Ms. Cockrum and some of her accomplices who possess US passports can be extradited for prosecution.

But at joint security conference yesterdsy, both Justice Minister Christina Tarr and Solicitor General Betty Lamin-Blamo confirmed that an extadition treaty exists between Liberia and the United States.

"We are filing official request to the US government for the extradition of these officials," Cllr. Lamin-Blamo said.

The disclosure of the existence of the treaty has reassured that Liberia can request their extradition to face justice here.

Addressing concerns about the 'doubtful' judicial system of the country Minister Tar said "their rights will be protected once the are brought back for the trial." The Solicitor General said, "all of those who were indicted will be brought for prosecution. We will go after them."

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