The burden of proof has been shifted on prosecutors in establishing their case against four Nigerian accused of stealing US$9.6m from the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) after the Monrovia City Court granted defence lawyers' motion for preliminary examinations.
The Nigerian suspects were charged with theft of property, forgery and economic sabotage.
According to the police, they were booked for allegedly converting US$US$9.6m from LTA as a result of SIM Box calls undermining government's revenue generation.
The lead defence lawyer Atty. Amos Kollie last Thursday requested Judge Nelson Chineh of the Monrovia City Court for preliminary hearing into the case of the four Nigerians.
He claimed that the Nigerian were innocent of the charges of theft of property, forgery and economic sabotage. As such he said the request will force the state lawyers to show probable cause as to why the defendants should be charged. "Your Honour, we only want the state to proof our clients' involvement by granting us the preliminary examination because they are innocent of the crimes. If proving that they committed the act, we will have no alternative but to go for a full trial", he noted.
Judge Nelson Chineh upheld the defence lawyer's plea, saying that such a request was not in violation rather it was provided by law.
State lawyer Atty. Sam T. Solomon posed no objection to the Judge's ruling; but prayed for continuance in order to able them gather all the evidence against the Nigerian suspects.
He claimed that the request for continuance was in good faith and not intended to delay the trial as being speculated in many quarters. State lawyers' request was granted by Judge Chineh who said the request was provided by law. He announced that the trial will be recalled pending notices of assignment.
On July 13, 2013, the four Nigerians were arrested by police for using SIM Box equipment to receive and terminate incoming international calls to Liberia.
They were taken to Liberia Lonestar Communication Cooperation but where later transferred to the LTA which regulates telecommunication mater here.
During investigation it was established that LTA had projected US$9.6m to be generated between July 2012 and June 1213 but the institution had realized about US$10 million with a potential deficit of US$9.6m as a result of SIM Box calls undermining government's revenue generation.