The New Dawn (Monrovia)

29 January 2014

Liberia: Corkrum to Face Trial in Us! - Ellen Hints

Lawyers representing the Government of Liberia in the United States are said to be reviewing the over US$ half a million theft case involving fugitive ex-Roberts International Airport or RIA Managing Director Ms. Ellen Corkrum and others, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in her state of the nation's address Monday.

Mrs. Sirleaf said the ongoing review also includes extradition of the ex-RIA boss, a statement which suggests that trying Ms. Corkrum in the US could be another possible option.

"... This matter is under review by counsel in the United States for legal redress, including extradition" Mrs. Sirleaf said.

Ms. Corkrum, a reserved US Air force officer, who currently resides in the US, fled to the US shortly after news of the scandal allegedly involving her and boyfriend Melvin Johnson, including former Liberia Airport Authority or LAA Board Chairman Mr. Musa Bility and several others broke up.

The accused persons and institutions involved were on July 30, 2013, indicted by a special grand jury for Montserrado County for allegedly conspiring with a diaspora consulting company through Momar Dieng to defraud the LAA of over half a million United States Dollars.

The case which has created a huge national debate became a household story after Ms. Corkrum released several secret recordings of top government officials here, including top security officials some of whom allegedly helped her to escape. The recordings attempt to expose the power play and corruption within the corridors of the Executive Branch of Government here.

But Mrs. Sirleaf apparently referring to the release of those recordings, described Ms. Corkrum as "an unscrupulous and conspiring newly recruited Managing Director, who returned kindness and deference with entrapment and intriguing accusations to damage the credibility of several individuals and the image of the country."

President Sirleaf said the alleged theft involving Corkrum and others is a major setback in efforts to develop the airport.

Fugitive Corkrum and her alleged conspirators including former Liberia Airport Authority or LAA Board Chairman Mr. Musa Bility were on July 30, 2013, indicted by a special grand jury for Montserrado County for allegedly conspiring with a diaspora consulting company through Momar Diengand the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment or LBDI.

Corkrum's co-accused, defendant Musa Bility has already been granted a separate trial here. And that trial is expected to commence in the February Term of Court before the Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

However, despite the scandal at the RIA, Mrs. Sirleaf said far from the early days when only one or two airlines flew into airport, the airport now services 11 regular international airlines, with an increase in the average of passengers at of 25,000 a year.

She said with numerous airlines providing services to regional capitals and destinations in Asia, North America and Africa, ticket prices have become so competitive that it is possible to fly round-trip to Accra, Ghana for less than US$300 - more than a 100 percent decrease in airfare from four years ago.

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