Liberia: Sirleaf, Weeks Plead Not Guilty

Sirleaf, Weeks Plead Not Guilty
27 August 2019

The five current and former officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) who are facing criminal charges have pleaded not guilty.

The five defendants including Charles E. Sirleaf, Milton A. Weeks, Dorbor Hagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph G. Dennis who were on Monday, August 26, 2019, arraigned before Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia unanimously pleaded not guilty of the alleged charges of Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation and Money Laundering, after the reading of their indictments.

The court said in support of the consolidation of the two indictments, it has invoked section 16.9 of the criminal procedure law which states that the court may order two or more indictments to be tried together if the offenses and the defendants could have been joined in a single indictment.

The court also said it will like to find out from the defendants through their legal counsels whether they want trial by jury or bench trial.

Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court "C" added that all of the defendants are required to file a valid bond for the alleged crime of Money Laundering, having earlier filed valid bond for the charges of Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation.

He cited section 15.2 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which states that "duties of Grand Jury shall inquire into all indictable offenses, trial-able within the county which is presented to it by the Prosecuting Attorney or otherwise come to its knowledge; and if there is probably cause to believe a particular person guilty of such an offense, shall charge him there with by the indictment."

Each of the defendants, according to the court, is to file L$1.058 billion bond.

Defendant Sirleaf was last week released from detention on medical bail, with defendant Joseph Dennis also released on Monday for medical purpose. Both of them have been given this week to file their bonds.

The five defendants were indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on March 4, 2019, and placed behind bars but were released after filing criminal appearance bond, and were awaiting trial.

But while the case was pending, the Government of Liberia through the Grand Jury of Montserrado County brought forth another indictment against the defendants on June 14, 2019 for the alleged crime of Money Laundering.

The five defendants were indicted in March 2019 for multiple criminal charges.

According to the indictment, on April of 2016 up to August of 2018, at their CBL offices, the defendants by virtue of their employments within the CBL deliberately, knowingly and intentionally colluded and conspired with the wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the Liberian economy.

It also revealed that the defendants defrauded the CBL and the government when they unauthorizingly printed excess Liberian dollar banknotes amounting to 2,645,000,000 (Two billion six hundred forty-five million Liberian dollars) to infuse into the Liberian market.

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