24 April 2019

Liberia: Court Acquits Coca-Cola Employees

After nine years of delay in a case involving Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Government lawyers have suffered serious setback when the Judge of Criminal Court 'C' dropped criminal charges against four former employees of the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

The defendants were accused of allegedly stealing US$1.8 million from the Company but were cleared last Thursday by Judge Boima Kontoe.

Defendants George Paye, Emmanuel Tyler, Sam Oyee and Tonia Kparteh were released from all criminal charges due to government lawyers' continuous delay in the case.

This follows government lawyers' third applications to the Court pleading for more delays in the matter on grounds that they were finding it difficult to establish contact with their witnesses.

But defense lawyer, Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson, rejected said request to the Court.

Criminal Court "C" Presiding Judge denied government lawyers' request for more delays and later restored the defendants' freedom.

The decision of the Judge to set the defense free is provided in Chapter 18, Section 18.2 of Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia.

The law states "a Court shall dismiss an indictment if the defendant is not tried during two terms after the finding of the indictment."

But records revealed that defendants' case has been before the court for over twelve terms.

Judge Kontoe's Thursday April 18, ruling has also left-room for government lawyers to re-file if they reconnect with witnesses.

It can be recalled that the Government of Liberia indicted nine employees of the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company in 2011 for alleged stealing US$1.8 million from their institution.

But only four defendants were prosecuted by the government after dropping charges against five of the nine persons to serve as state witness as it is provided by law.

This is the second time government lawyers' have suffered serious blow at the Criminal Court 'C' after former NPA Managing Director Matilda Parker and her Controller Christiana Parley were recently cleared of criminal charges in similar manner.


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