Liberia: CBL Officials' Trial Suspended

Prosecutors here have been granted one week to suspend hearing in the ongoing trial of five officials from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in favor of a submission made at Criminal Court "C" Monday, 17 June that government's key witnesses are away on official assignment.

The Court is hearing multiple charges of economic sabotage, criminal facilitation and criminal solicitation brought against former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf's son and CBL Deputy Governor Charles E. Sirleaf, former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, DorborHagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph Dennis at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

The indicted officials are held to give account for alleged excess billions of Liberian dollars printed and brought into the country during government's controversial exercise to replace mutilated local banknotes here nearing former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf's term.

The financial scandal at the CBL allegedly continued in the new administration of President George Manneh Weah, prompting a mass protest in 2018 dubbed "Bring Back Our Money" to demand authorities to account for alleged LRD$16 billion printed by hired firm Crane Currency, AB and shipped to Liberia.

In separate resistances made Monday at the Court, the defense teams considered the prosecution's request for one week of continuance (suspension of the case) as ambiguous because the application failed to state the names of the material witnesses that are out of Liberia.

"Counsel says Baba M. Boakai, Mark N. Kollie, Isaac C. Davies, Emmanuel Tarlu, Amos Goba, Marshall Dennis and Honorable Alex Tyler are all in the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia. Counsels says J. Alex Tyler, Mark Kollie were present in court this morning," the defense says.

Mr. Tyler, Liberia's former House Speaker, is one of several past and present officials indicted in the Sable Mining case, another high profile economic sabotage case that is before the Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice.

The defense also raises issues about their clients' rights to speedy trial as guaranteed by both the Constitution of Liberia and the statute.

Additionally, the defense suggests that Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh disregards the request because the letter [conveying the prosecution's request for continuance] is misdirected and inappropriate on grounds that it is addressed to the Clerk of Court instead of the Judge.

Judge Gbeneweleh says the court notes the concern of the defense lawyers that their clients are entitled to speedy trial as provided for under Article 21 (h) of the 1986 Constitution, but he also observes that this is prosecution's first request for continuance in this case.

He therefore grants the excuse for one week, assigning the hearing of the case for Monday, 24 June at 9AM.By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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