19 December 2013

Liberia: Musa Bility Appears in Court Without Prime Player Ellen Cockrum

The pre-trial conference for indicted former head of the Liberia Airport Authority, currently in the United States of America commenced Wednesday at the Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice without the presence of the principal defendant Ellen K. Cockrum.

Ellen Cockrum, Board Chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority- Musa Bility, President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) -John Davies as well as the President of the First International Bank have all been charged by the Liberian Government with various crimes to include theft of Property, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and facilitation among others.

Madam Cockrum's indictment by the government of Liberia on various charges stemmed from a contract worth about 30 million United States dollars intended for the revamping of the runaway of the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County to international standard.

Last week Presiding Judge of the Criminal Court "C" Blamo Dixon requested that all defendants involved in the case including Ellen Crockrum and her fiancé, Melvin Johnson at-large appear in court on Wednesday but amazingly the two defendants were not seen in any part of the courtroom except for co-defendant Musa Bility and the legal counsels of some of the defendants excluding Ellen Cockrum and Melvin Johnson.

While in court on Wednesday co-defendant Bility represented by the Pierr e&Tweh Associates told the court of the his desire to up mend his legal team with two additional lawyers, Attys, Arthur Johnson and SwahiloSesay bringing his legal counsel to three lawyers. Defendant Bility also called on the court for separate trial but ruling on that was tabled for next hearing which takes place on December 27, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.

Co-defendant Bility presence in court on Wednesday was based on the request made by the court to do same or else he could have been held to show cause why he should not be held in contempt by the court.

Judge Blamo Dixon or Solicitor General Betty LarmieBlamo present in court could not tell the court about the conspicuous absence of defendants Cockrum and Johnson, though there are report filtering into the country that Justice Minister Christiana Tah is currently in the United States holding talks with the US Government on the extradition of the two who possess dual -citizenship- Liberian and American.

At Wednesday's hearing state lawyers led by Solicitor General Betty LarmieBlamo presented three files which contains documentary evidence of the state to include copy of cover letter along with bill of cost for the rehabilitation of the RIA runaway from the SSF Entrepreneur dated September 12, 2012, addressed to Paula Fares under the signature of Bilal Nurudeen Managing Director of SSF.

Another evidence include copy of cover letter dated November 28, 2012 along with copy of purported contract addressed to Ellen Cockrum from MomarDeing, CEO, Diaspora Consulting containing 22 sheets.

While copy of LBDI transferred funds in the amount of US$125,000.00 dated December 10, 2012, signed by Ellen Cockrum and Musa Bility with transfer made to the Diaspora Consultant LLC and others all formed part of the state's evidence.

Lawyers representing co-defendant Bility upon disclosure of the evidence by the state excepted the evidence but told the court the evidence should be the only evidence and no other evidence should be brought forth by the state during trial but their request was denied by the court while lawyers representing the LBDI and FIB requested the court for time in order to review the evidence, with the court ruling that request be tabled for next hearing.

As Judge Blamo Dixon adjourned the case for next hearing on December 27, 2013 he ruled and stated "hereafter no one in the public shall be allowed to call for the resignation or dismissal of those connected to the secret recordings of Madam Cockrum while the case is in court".

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