10 April 2019

Liberia: Matilda Parker Acquitted

At long last, Criminal Court "C" has dropped criminal charges against former National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Matilda Parker and her Comptroller Christian Paelay.

This follows Government lawyer second application to the Court pleading with that Court for more delay on grounds that they (Government) lawyers were finding difficulties to establish contacts of their previous witnesses to continue the matter despite the Supreme Court mandate.

The former NPA Managing Director and her Comptroller were indicted for economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County during the May 2015 Term of Court the same being the tenth years of former President Johnson-Sirleaf's rule as Liberian head of state.

Dismissing the indictment Wednesday, April 10, 2019, Criminal Court "C" Judge Boima Kontoe views said application of the state to be frivolous given the history of the case dating as far back as 2015.

According to Judge Kontoe, when Government caused an individual or person, to legally appear in a court of law or any tribunal, the Government should be ready and prepared to proceed with prosecution of the case against said accused person or defendant; something the Liberian Government has failed to do in this matter.

The second mandate for resumption of trial of the subject case having been read on December 28, 2018 and the first assignment for resumption of trial having been issued for March 4, 2019, the court says it finds it difficult to understand the legal and factual basis of prosecution's application for continuance, even for just an hour.

Judge Kontoe argued that upon reading second mandate from the supreme court of Liberia on December 28, 2018, prosecution ought to have had its witnesses ready and prepared to come to court and testify for and on behalf of the prosecution.

Judge Kontoe maintained that the Government of Liberia has miserably failed to show good cause why the matter remains at that Court and the Supreme Court mandate read on December 28, 2019 but gave such frivolous excuse as proved by the instant case.

The first trial of this case commenced in November, 2015 term of court and progressed to the month of February 2016, when prosecution fled to the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia on a petition for certiorari.

The petition was heard and the supreme court of Liberia, on October 4, 2017, reminded the case and mandated criminal court "C" to resume jurisdiction, empanel a new panel of petty jurors and start trial anew. During the November 2017 term of court, the high court mandate was read on November 16, 2017 under the gavel of than Resident Circuit Judge, Criminal Assizes "C", A. Blamo Dixon.

Section 18.2 of the criminal procedural law states that a court shall dismiss a complaint against a defendants or person charged with an offense trial by a magistrate or justice of the peace if trial is not commencing within fifteen days following the arrest of said defendant his or her appearance in court in response to a summon or notice to appear.

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