Monrovia – In a rather stinging rebuke, the Special Prosecutor of the Global Witness Special Presidential Task Force has reacted sharply to Cllr. Varney Sherman’s interview with reporters on Tuesday in which he claimed his prosecution in the Sable Mining bribery trial is politically motivated.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that the Defendant (Cllr. Sherman) is now playing the victim, in a poor attempt to rewrite the history of Sable Mining corruption in Liberia,” Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa told FrontPageAfrica.
Cllr. Sherman told reporters on Tuesday that the allegations pertaining to the case were diabolical and wicked.
“I will not relent until the truth is revealed. If somebody will pay for it, it will be between their God and my God.
He further asked, “Have you ever asked yourself: in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Government how the making of laws went through?
Do you know any group called the International Senior lawyers Program that had people here assisting with the drafting of law?
Do you know that the law they said I bribed people to change the EU, USAID and the International Senior Lawyers were involved in that change?
Have any of you been able to talk to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission to ask whether I had anything to do with this law?
Have you read the letter the President wrote the legislature to tell them about all the organizations that helped her in changing the law?
You haven’t done that; you have swallowed the Global Witness report?
But Cllr. Koffa argued that contrary to Cllr. Sherman’s assertion that he will not relent until the truth is revealed, the record in the case shows that it is Cllr. Sherman who put up “legal roadblock for six months to prevent the bank from turning over bank records pursuant to a valid and lawful subpoena.“
“It was this defendant who refused a jury of his peers because he claims the courtroom is his fishbowl.”
“It was this defendant who, after having admitted in court to incriminating emails which proves the bribery scandal, sought legal technicalities to prevent the emails from being admitted into evidence.”
Speaking on the veracity of the allegations against the defendants in the case, Cllr. Koffa explained that at first the defence claimed that the government hacked the email which formed a substantial part of evidence presented by the government.
“After they failed to present proof in this regard, they then used their fish bowl theory to get the court to compel the appearance of an unindicted co-conspirator in order to admit email that they had already conceded was theirs.”
“After the justice in chambers put an end to that shenanigan by ruling that the court was erroneous and biased, they appealed to the full bench.
It was this defendant who has refused to perfect that appeal, causing the government to take the unusual step of taxing the records and obtaining the transcripts to ensure that the case comes before the Supreme Court in the shortest possible time,” Cllr. Koffa said. He added: “If the Defendant is interested in the truth, let him come to court, and agree to the unobstructed admission of the evidence.”
“To obstruct the legal proceedings then claim political victimization is simply being disingenuous.
The government of Liberia did not write the Global Witness report. In fact, the Defendant knew of the Global Witness report months before the report came out as he was contacted in this regard.
It remains uncontroverted that the emails were written by the defendant and the bank records which correspond to the emails are his.” On the issue of international legal assistance and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s letter regarding making changes to the Public Procurement Concession Company (PPCC) law, Cllr. Koffa said, “Look, international assistance is provided to Liberia all the time. Does that mean corruption does not exist?
The international lawyers who provided the assistance were not part of the attempt to insert no bidding requirements in the law.
The international experts were long gone when the crime was perpetrated.
Similarly, the letter President wrote did not call for any provision of no bid requirement.
This was a lawful act done in an unlawful manner.” Trial Could Resume Next Week
Cllr. Koffa further informed this paper that if the Supreme Court gives the green light, trial could resume as early as next week in Criminal Court Yusif Kaba is presiding.
“There is no political victim here. These people are criminal defendants attempting to get political absolution for and cover from a matter properly before the court.”
“It is unfortunate that the Vice President campaign is being used in this manner.”
“At the end of the day, the only just verdict in this matter is a guilty one. That is why they are putting up legal roadblocks on one hand and beating their chest politically on the other. We all know what happened here. Whether it is Liberia or the US, justice will be delayed but will never be denied,” he asserted.
Assets To Be Retrieved
Meanwhile, Cllr. Koffa disclosed that the Special Task Force has retained the a law firm in Washington DC, Steven M. Schneebaum to work in collaboration with Christian Lüscher to investigate and retrieve some stolen assets in states worth US$11.2 million in its first phase of asset retrieval.
FrontPageAfrica gathered that two of the defendants in the Sable Mining bribery case are among six targeted individuals being investigated.
Others being investigated for asset retrieval are linked to the Ellen Korkorum case, the Japanese Oil Grant case and two other past government officials.
It can be recalled that last week a former Minister of Guinea was sentenced to 7 years in prison for transferring proceeds of corruption to the US.