MONROVIA, July 8. – The Criminal Court ‘C’ has denied an application by lawyers representing the interest of eight persons in the Sable Mining corruption scandal seeking a Writ of Subpoena to compel former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to appear in court to testify in the ongoing Sable Mining bribery case.
Defense lawyers are seeking the presence of former president Sirleaf to provide evidence surrounding the amended Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2010 that led to their bribery indictment.
The prosecution team headed by the Assistant Minister for Litigation, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, questioned the defense lawyers’ request on grounds that the former President is immune from testifying in court for what she did as President consistent with Article 61 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Article 61, states: “The President shall be immune from any suits, action proceedings, judicial or otherwise, and from arrest, detention on account of any act done by him or her while serving as President of Liberia.”
It further states: “The President shall not however, be immune from prosecution upon removal from office for the commission of any criminal act done while serving as President.”
The Criminal Court ‘C’ Presiding Judge, Peter Gbeneweleh, was compelled to deny Senator Varney Sherman and seven others’ application for a Writ of Subpoena against the former president to provide evidence in the Sable Mining Bribery case.
A “subpoena duces tecum,” or “subpoena for production of evidence,” is a court summons ordering the recipient to appear before the court and produce documents or other tangible evidence for use at a hearing or trial.
In his testimony, Senator Sherman stated that former president Sirleaf in an interview with Aljazeera Radio ‘wrongfully and illegally’ charged them.
He further indicated that the Global Witness which flagged the Sable Mining scandal is a non-governmental organization which is headquartered in London, England with the objective of investigating and reporting alleged improprieties in developing countries.
Senator Sherman, who is the Defense Counsel first witness, took the stand in his own defense on Monday, July 1, at Criminal Court “C” and is still testifying in the case.
He pointed out that a document was published on the internet and in cyber space entitled the ‘Deceivers’ which alleged that Sable Mining gave him US$950,000.00 to bribe Liberian government officials to insert a Section 75 in the amendment and restatement of the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005.
Senator Sherman said in his testimony that as a career lawyer he had the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the Mineral, Mining as well as Petroleum Laws of Liberia dating back to the tenure of President Charles Taylor, and former Chairman of the National Transitional Government headed by Charles Gyude Bryant.
“I advised, consulted and prepared documents for many foreign investors, including Sable Mining Africa Ltd,” stated Cllr. Sherman.
He denied receiving any money from Sable Mining to bribe former government officials to change the PPCC Act.
He said the Global Witness 2016 Report titled “The Deceivers” that indicted him, was written by “neophytes and incompetent people who know nothing.’
The testimony of Senator Sherman came after State Lawyer; Cllr. Wesseh Alphonso Wesseh had rested the presentation of 62 pieces of both oral and documentary evidences.
Senator Sherman, who is currently serving in the Liberian Senate as Chairman on Judiciary, is being indicted with seven others for allegedly receiving US$950,000.00 from the British Company Sable Mining, to bribe former government officials to change the PPCC Act of 2010 in favor of the company to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.
The eight men have been charged with economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, facilitation, and solicitation.
Those indicted with Sherman are former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah, former Mines and Energy Minister Eugene Shannon, former Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, E.C.B. Jones, former National Investment Commission Chairman Richard Tolbert, former PPCC boss Willie Belleh and businessman Christopher Onanuga.
The case continues on Thursday, July 4.
By Shadrach D. Brown, Liberia Correspondent