The criminal trial of ex-National Port Authority Managing Director Madam Matilda Parker resumed Tuesday with the defendant weeping in open court.
Parker and comptroller Christina Paley who are relying on a temporary bond value at US$1.2 million were arraigned at Criminal Court ‘C’ to response to their alleged involvement a US$800,000 procurement theft while serving at the NPA.
Several prominent women, some associates of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the ruling Unity Party jammed the court room to witness the hearing
The presence of the women in Court may have pulled tears from the eyes of the ex NPA chief whose alleged criminal record has distanced her from the presidency.
She broke down in tears when she saw her former kitchen cabinet members who were consoling her.
Later, Judge Blamo Dixon acquainted the defendants with their constitutional and statutory rights.
He informed the defendants that the Government has indicted them for the crime of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy.
“You were served with copies of the indictment and the writ of arrest; therefore bringing you under the jurisdiction of the Court for prosecution.
“As part of your constitutional right you tendered a bail bond of US$1.2 million as part of your right. That bond was approved by my predecessor and confirmed. This Court also hereby reconfirmed your bond under may gavel ship,” he pointed out.
The Criminal Court ‘C’ presiding Judge further stated “under the constitution you know your rights. You have the right to have sufficient notice of your charges; right to adequate legal representation as you have already done by hiring lawyers of your choice.
“You have the right to remain silent because any statement that you will make will be used against you in the Court of law. You have the right to confront the witnesses for the Government; right to jury trial or non jury trial. You also have the right to be trial alone if you do not want to be tried alone with other defendants. These are you constitutional rights for now and the others shall be explained to you by your lawyers during the course of trial.”
Judge Dixon acknowledged receipt of the motion for discovery and the motion for severance (meaning separate trial) which defendants lawyers filed before the Court. However, the persecution has not responded to the motions whether or not they were served.
But state lawyer Atty. Oretha S. Davis request the Court to order the clerk to arraign the defendants in the dock in other to ascertain their plea, which is the basis for the prosecution claim against the defendants.
Defense lawyers led by Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull rejected the state request for arraignment of the defendants.
She urged the court to deny said request saying “the defendants had not received all the materials in the possession of the prosecution to satisfy the requirement of notice under the due process of law in view of the fact that it is well established by procedure and practice in this jurisdiction,” the defense lawyer said.
She argued that the accused should be informed all of the nature and substances of the charges against them that in possession of the prosecution to enable them to adequately defense their clients and answer to the charge or charges posted against them by the prosecution.
“Your Honor if you allow the defendants to receive the relevant information and evidence in possession of the prosecution relating to the charges brought against them with the advice of their legal counsel they will be in a better position to answer to the charges brought against them by the state as Your Honor will take judicial notice that there are four defendants in this indictment and at the call of the case only two are in the defendants dock, therefore the two plea with this Court to allow the motions to be heard in other that justice and fair play can be prevailed,” defense lawyer Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull stressed.
Judge Dixon acknowledged the submission and resistance by defense lawyer saying “it is true that the defense team filed two separate motions for discovery and severance on November 10, 2015 at 9:00am.
He noted that state lawyers needed time to respond to the two motions so as to enable the Court to dispose of them or pass upon them.
The Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge declined for the arraignment of the defendants before the Court to ascertain the plea because the prosecution has not agree or rejected the motion for discovery and the motion for severance.
“In the interest of transparent justice the Court is incline to postponed this case to Thursday November 12, 2015 at 11:00am so as to give state lawyers the chance to file respond or resistance to the two motions,” Judge Dixon ruled.
Both Parker and Paelay were indicted by the state during the May 2015 Term of Court for economic sabotage, theft of property and Criminal conspiracy after they were accused of expanding over US$800,000 contract to a company to dredge the port.
The latest indictment from the Montserrado County’s Special Grand Jurors has exposed the regime’s dark heart with specific emphasis on how two senior female public officials abused their power, luring a naïve stationary vendor to conspire against the interest of the state for personal gain.
The Grand Jurors and Montserrado County Attorney Daku Mulbah are convicted in their indictment that Ms. Matilda Parker and co defendant Christina Kpaba-Paelay innovated a systematic fraud scheme, which the pair effectively used as a vehicle to steal from the country.
Review of the indictment dossier indicates that the disgraced National Port Authority Managing Director and her comptroller successfully used fraud scheme template being used by other public officials except that Parker and co were unfortunate to be caught in the act and are being prosecuted.
The indictment’s controlling theme is procurement fraud, which has been the crux of several corruption scandals that have rocked the Johnson-Sirleaf administration ranging from the carbon credit kickback saga and the Private Used Permit land grab disaster.
But how the ladies did it? The innovation utilized in looting the NPA is classless. The Special Grand Jurors explained in the indictment that the pair transformed a stationary vendor into a highly rated marine engineer and security expert to remove wreck from the Port of Greenvile. Payments were made but work or services not performed.
–Story & Photo Peter N. Toby