At the resumption of the trial yesterday, the Prosecution lawyer in court, Cllr Wesseh A. Wesseh, Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)humbly requested the Court to call upon the Sheriff as to the matter of Service of the Notice of Assignment on the Defendants. Prosecution lawyer Wesseh said the state application was based on the backdrop from the fact that the face or the caption of this indictment carries several individuals, most of whom were not in court, and that their absence from these proceedings will constrain Prosecution to proceed with these proceedings.
However, in resisting the Prosecution submission to ascertain from the Sheriff as to the matter of Notice of Assignment, the Defense Counsel, through Cllr. G. Wiefueh Sayeh, argued that the practice and procedure is that the defendants are represented by counsel and the said assignment is served on the counsel and not the defendants. Defense Counsel Sayeh further argued that the absence of some of the defendants, this court needs to ascertain as to whether all of the defendants were brought under the jurisdiction of this Court instead of asking the Sheriff to say whether the Notice of Assignment was served on all of the defendants which is not the practice in this jurisdiction.
“Therefore, from the face of the Notice of Assignment, there are names of several lawyers and law firms which is an indication that that those lawyers and/or lawyers represent individual defense. The request made by the Prosecution is strange and is not the practice in keeping with law,” Defense Counsel Sayeh asserted. The Court: “ The application by Prosecution to ascertain from the Sheriff of this Court as to the manner of service of the Notice of Assignment on each of the defendant, same being inconsistent with our practice and procedure in this jurisdiction, is hereby denied with notice to Prosecution to modify same.”
At this stage, Counsel for Prosecution humbly requested the Court to ascertain from the Sheriff as to whether all of the defendants were present in court. For the Counsel of the Defense, he said (all) of the defendants were never ever brought under the jurisdiction of the Court because some of the defendants reside outside the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia. According to him, those that reside outside the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia were never served with the indictment neither the writ of arrest, therefore were never brought under the jurisdiction of the Court, asserting that those who were served with the Writ of Arrest along with the indictment are present in Court.
He then requested the Court to again dismiss and deny the submission because of the word “all” of the defendants. Owing to the solid legal arguments propounded by the Defense Counsel regarding the aforementioned matter, the Court pointed out that these proceedings cannot be continued as in keeping with the requirements and provisions of “our Criminal Procedure Code”. The Court furthered that it is cardinal requirement under “our Criminal Procedure Law” that defendants, who have been indicted, must be served with the said indictment along with a writ of arrest in order to bring them under the jurisdiction of the Court.
“Additionally, it is also the requirements under our Criminal Procedure Code that defendants jointly charged under a single indictment, and all of whom have not been brought under the jurisdiction of the Court, to proceed with trial is tantamount to injuring the Court,” the Court stated. “While it is true and as per our Criminal Procedure Code and the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, that defendants who are charged of criminal offenses by the State are entitled to speedy trial, the said speedy trial requirement can only be delivered or can be only be satisfied as per our Constitution if the Prosecution does the needful to guarantee speedy trial for the defendants present in Court,” the Court added.
Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Ministry of Justice, relied upon an investigative report of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to indict Singbeh and others of allegedly duping two Czech investors, Martin and Pavel Miloschesky of over US$5million in both cash and equipment, an allegation Singbeh and others have since rubbished and vowed to prove their innocence in a court of competent jurisdiction.