7 March 2017

Liberia: Court Fines Seven Defendants U.S.$200 Each in Sable Mining Case

The Presiding Judge of Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Yamie Q. Gbesisay, has fined seven defendants in the Global Witness Report "Bribery" Scandal for failure to appear in court for the case.

The seven defendants were fined US$200 each to be paid in Government Revenue within 24 hours.

Judge Gbesisay said failure on the part of the defendants to pay the fine will lead to the issuance of a writ for their arrest and detention until the fines are paid into government revenue.

Those fined are G. Varney Sherman, E.C.B. Jones, Christopher Onanuga, Richard Tolbert, Klaus Piprek, Willie Belleh and Eugene Shannon, with the exception of co-defendant Morris Saytumah who never received any notice of assignment.

Judge Gbesisay reached the decision Monday when the seven defendants failed to appear in open court after the notice of assignment was served on each of the lawyers representing them.

Only co-defendant J. Alex Tyler was present in court, while defendant Richard Tolbert appeared after the court had adjourned.

Judge Gbesisay noted that the defendants are all prominent citizens and that under the law if they are simply accused and not convicted their rights are to be respected by the court, and they are under obligation to respect the mandate of the court.

He, however, said if such act is committed the second time the court will set their bail bond aside and have them arrested.

Those named in the amended indictment are former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, former Deputy Lands, Mines and Energy Minister E.C.B. Jones, and businessman Christopher Onanuga.

Others are the former boss of the National Investment Commission (NIC) Richard Tolbert; Andrew Groves and Klaus Piprek of Sable Mining; former Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Eugene Shannon; former Minister of State Morris Saytumah and Wille Belleh, former Chairman of the PPCC.

The Global Witness report alleges that US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were made to the former and present government officials by the UK mining firm Sable Mining through its Liberian lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman.


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