Monrovia - The Supreme Court of Liberia has declined to issue the Writ of Certiorari filed against Judge Emery Paye of the Criminal Court “C”.
A Writ of Certiorari is an order from a higher court to a lower court to send all the documents in a case to it so the higher court can review the lower court's decision.
Defendant Andrew Grove petition to the Supreme Court followed the lower court judge’s decision not to drop the charges against him as per his request.
Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, presiding in Chambers, informed Groves through the clerk of the Supreme Court that his requested could not be granted.
Prior to his petition for a Writ of Certiorari, a legal argument as to whether or not charges of bribery be dropped against Grove and his Sable Mining Company intensified at Criminal Court “C” with Judge Emery Paye denying the motion to dismiss the indictment.
Grove and his Sable Mining Company were indicted along with several former and present government officials, including Speaker Alex Tyler, for allegedly bribing said officials to change the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Law to avoid any bidding process to enable them obtain the approval for mining of the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.
The indictment was also based on a Global Witness report implicating them having paid over US$900,000 to change the PPCC Law.
Grove’s and Sable Mining’s legal team, the Justice and Peace Interest Consortium, argued that their clients are not Liberians and they are not employees of the Liberian government or members of the National Legislature to change any laws. Therefore, they argued, they cannot be held responsible for lawmakers to change their country’s laws.
Besides, they said the court lacked extraterritorial jurisdiction to try their clients, because they are not Liberians and are not under the country’s jurisdiction.
They claimed that there is no extradition treaty between Liberia and Great Britain, and there is no legal basis to have their clients brought back to the country for prosecution.
In counterargument, prosecutors said that, though the defendants were non-Liberians and not government officials, they offered and paid money for the performance of an official duty of the lawmakers. Furthermore, their action helped to create an opportunity for people to defraud the government, which is a serious crime under the Liberian law.
Responding to the defendants’ argument that they were not involved in lawmaking, prosecutors clarified the defendants committed a crime of bribery, of which they do not have to be Liberian citizens to commit.
Prosecutors also contended that the defendants cannot be tried in absentia, since they have not been brought under the jurisdiction of the court, “so there is no need for their lawyers to ask for dismissal of the indictment.”
“We have not served them with the writ of arrest, the indictment and other relevant legal documents to have them extradited to Liberia for their prosecution,” Cllr. Daku Mulbah, lead prosecutor of the Global Witness bribery scandal, said.
He maintained that there is an extradition treaty with the government of Great Britain, dated back to the 1800s, leaving both countries to exchange intelligence and security information.
Further Cllr. Mulbah claimed that evidently the defendants interacted, designated and appointed Cllr. Varney Sherman as their legal counsel and Sherman’s report to them revealed that they facilitated changing the Act.
During his ruling, Judge Paye indicated that the court was in full agreement with the prosecution that after it was discovered that a crime had been committed the next step would be to establish who committed it and the manner and means the crime was committed, which could often take time for prosecution after the discovery.
“Wherefore in view of the foregoing facts and circumstances, movants motion to dismiss the indictment and quash those charges levied against movants is hereby denied and the resistance sustained, “said Judge Emery Paye.
He stated that the co-defendant in the case is alleged to have acted in concert, so to dismiss the indictment in favor of the alleged principal source Sable Mining would amount to completely terminating the case, if not in its entirety, to certain extent.