Liberia: Court Rejects Parker's Motion

28 September 2018

Criminal Court "C" Judge Boima Kontoe has denied a motion to dismiss indictment against former Managing Director of Liberia's National Port Authority (NPA), Madam Matilda Parker, and Comptroller Christian Paelay.

Parker and Christian Paelay stand accused of allegedly robbing government of over US$800,000 intended for removing wrecks at the Port of Greenville in Sinoe County. Both are charged with economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy.

Since the indictment, the two defendants have vehemently denied the charges, saying they are not guilty.

Recently, defense lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, filed in a 25 counts motion before the court to dismiss the indictment against the two accused, saying Madam Parker acted based on the mandate of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Cllr. Johnson argued that the former NPA boss should not be held for action she took at the behest of former President.

The motion was attached with a letter allegedly sent by former President Sirleaf to the former NPA boss, Parker, in which the former President reportedly instructed Parker to immediately proceed with the removal of a wreck from the Greenville Port as a way of paving the way for the widening of government's revenue base.

He indicated in his motion that it was absolutely wrong on the part of the prosecution team (the Government of Liberia) to have indicted the former NPA boss for simply acting on a Presidential mandate, some of whom he said was confidential instructions to Madam Parker, among others.

In response to the motion however, the respondent, which happens to be the Government of Liberia, counter argued that labeling the former NPA boss as agent of the former President cannot be justifiable on grounds that the former NPA boss lost the confidence of President Sirleaf, based upon which she was suspended and sacked by the former President.

Government's lawyers argued that because Parker did not operate in straight adherence of the President's mandate; that is why the former President subjected Parker and codefendant to criminal investigation.

They argued that if Madam Parker was operating based on the former President's request as indicated by her lawyer, she could not have been suspended and subjected to criminal investigation, saying the motion to drop all charges against the two accused should be denied.

Well-dressed in a lapper suit, Madam Parker sat closely beside codefendant Paelay who was smartly dressed wearing a white skirt and a pair of shoes to match along with a lapper blouse on the defendant's bench, looking very seriously as they listened to the ruling from the judge.

Handling down the ruling Wednesday, September 25, 2018, Criminal Court "C" Judge Boima Kontoe said the letter from the former President to Madam Parker is not and cannot be a justifiable reason to drop charges against the accuse.

He concluded by saying the motion to dismiss the charges against the two defendants do not have sufficient legal support therefore the court ruled that the motion is dismissed and denied.

As the motion to dismiss the indictment was handed down, the two defendants appeared very weary as they looked in the eyes of family members who were well seated to receive the ruling.

Meanwhile, following the ruling, defense lawyer Arthur Johnson accepted the ruling, saying he will take advantage of the of the statute and laws of Liberia, meaning there is a possibility that he could file in an appeal before the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Following his response, Judge Kontoe noted Cllr. Johnson's response as he announced the suspension of the matter.

After the matter was suspended, the two defendants quietly walked toward family members who provided words of encouragements to them as he moved into their respective vehicles that drove them away from the court.

The case which started during the November 2015 term of court got suspended for a while after defendants lawyer file in an appeal before the Supreme Court, which saw the entire jury disbanded and a new trial announced.

When the case was call for trail, the two defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges levied against them and requested a bench trial rather than a jury trial.

It was at the start of the bench trial that the 25 counts motion to dismiss the indictment was filed in by Cllr. Johnson.

The indictment means Parker and Paelay are barred from leaving the country, until as such time when the matter is fully addressed. The two are seeking a speedy trial to ensure the matter is addressed.

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