Media War Waged: Twist In Sable Mining Case? Criminal Court “C” Awaits S/ Court’s Opinion

By: Lewis K. Glay 0886469835/lglay.inprofile@gmail.com

“You don’t run the court in the media and judges are not politicians; they are lawyers who take oath to abide by ethical standards in prosecuting cases brought before them. There is nothing wrong which Judge Gbeisay has done in the proceeding but people are playing politics to taint his hard earned legal reputation…. Because   Judge Gbeisay is not reacting to the barrage of accusation does not mean that the insinuations in the media against him are true”

Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice appears to be hard hit by media war in the wake of the Sable Mining Case involving the state and high profile former and current officials of the Liberian Government.

Judge  Yamie  Quiqui Gbeisay,  one of  Liberia’s respected  Cllrs, who is presiding  over  the Sable Mining  Case  seems to be portrayed  in the media as someone who has done wrong in the proceeding.

Judge Gbeisay is being accused by prosecution lawyers in the case of  inadvertently erring  by marking the evidence (spread sheets, e-mails) temporarily, thus taking exception to such ruling.

The accusation which  scores of media outlets have amplified in recent weeks, has come in the wake of  the state lawyers’  appeal to Judge Gbeisay to give them the period of 10 days  to import their witnesses from abroad  to continue the trial.

Prior to this appeal, Judge Gbeisay denied state lawyers of a motion to rescind judgment for the suppression of evidence which is currently being used in the court to prosecute the defendants in the trial.

The  In Profile Daily has gathered from learned legal minds  that the court has insisted that as a doctrine, the accused should face the accusers in open court; as such, prosecution witnesses need to appear in court to face  the accused and answer questions.

“ You don’t run the court in the media and judges are not politicians; they are lawyers who take oath to abide by ethical standards in prosecuting cases brought before them. There is nothing wrong which Judge Gbeisay has done in the proceeding but people are playing politics to taint his hard earned legal reputation,” one lawyer who spoke to the In Profile Daily on condition of anonymity over the weekend indicated.

The lawyer said Judge Gbeisay cannot say anything on the accusation from state lawyers to the media now because the case has gone to the Supreme Court, adding, “ Because  Judge Gbeisay is not reacting  to the barrage of accusation does not mean that the insinuations in the media against him are true.”

It is recalled that prosecution’s decision to take the matter to the Supreme Court was based on Judge Gbeisay’s stance not to accept their request to have the controversial e-mails and spreadsheets marked permanently to be included as their oral and documentary evidences.

In his stance, Gbeisay declared that the spreadsheets and e-mails will be marked temporarily, pending the arrival of Heine Van Niekerk, who is the major participant in the alleged e-mails exchanges, who prosecution listed as one of its witnesses and informed the court, during argument that he would be brought to testify.

Gbeisay’s judgment indicated: “On the question of conversation referred in the e-mails between defendant Varney Sherman and Klaus Piprik with regards to co-defendant Alex Tyler, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, demanding a payment of US$250,000, making reference to Tyler, a third party, in his absence, it is a truth hearsay,” adding,” But, said statement may be admitted not necessarily for its truthfulness, but for the fact that such statement was made.”

These were some of the wordings in the judgment that prosecution relied upon to take their case before the Supreme Court, arguing that they were not interested having Gbeisay to continue with the matter.

Outlining their reservations, state lawyers argued that for the court to demand them to produce their own witness, Heine Van Niekerk to appear, “It means that Judge Gbeisay was in error; even, when he ruled that every precaution should be taken to ensure that the defendants have maximum opportunity to and prove their innocence.”

“The judge was also in error to say that Niekerk made a grave allegation against the defendants and that was an error for the court to accept that the alleged conversation between co-defendant Sherman and Klaus Piprik with reference to co-defendant Alex Tyler was a heresy.”

Prosecution had also argued that the e-mails and spreadsheets were voluntarily given to the government investigating team by Heine Van Niekerk, Sable Mining West Africa Director with whom co-defendant Sherman had the series of e-mail exchanges.

Sable Mining is a UK based mining company that Global Witness’s report claimed gave over US$950.000 to have the defendants including Tyler to change the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) to award the Wologizi Mountain to the company without going through the competitive bidding process.

In support to the argument, prosecution claimed their investigators obtained a notarized affidavit in which Niekerk confirmed the contents of the e-mails and disposed that he gave the documents to the Liberian Government under an immunity agreement.

Despite these arguments, Gbeisay maintained that Heine Van Niekerk should appear in person to testify about the documents, which prompted prosecution’s action to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention.

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