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First Prosecution Witness Links Defendants Sable Mining Crime
Date Uploaded: Mar 13, 2017

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First Prosecution Witness Links Defendants Sable Mining Crime
By Ballah M. Kollie

MONROVIA, March 12 (LINA) – The prosecution first witness in the ongoing Sable Mining case at Criminal Court “C” has linked all of the defendants to the commission of the charges levied against them.

Witness Mark N. Kollie, who is also the Senior Corruption Investigator at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), linked the defendants to the commission of all three categories of bribery as defined by the state in its indictment against the defendants.

Since the burden of proof rests on the state, Kollie is the first of 26 witnesses expected to testify for the state in these proceedings.

In his testimony in open court, Kollie said investigations and interviews conducted both at home and abroad prove that defendants Varney Sherman, E.C.B. Jones, Christopher Onanuga, Richard Tolbert, Klaus Piprek, Willie Belleh, Eugene Shannon, Morris Saytumah and J. Alex Tyler separately received thousands of United States dollars to influence the changing of the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005 in favor of their client, the U.K-based Sable Mining.

They are to clear themselves of Bribery, Economic Sabotage, Criminal Felicitation, Criminal Solicitation, and Criminal Conspiracy.

On Thursday March 9, the defendants joined the state in a full-scale trial when they announced a not-guilty plea after their indictment was read to them.

Kollie said the intent of the arrangement was to give Sable Mining, a British Mining Firm, access to the iron ore-rich Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

He testified that through Counselor Sherman and his Sherman and Sherman Law Firm, the amount of US$950,000 was dished out to the defendants in various sums ranging from US$5,000 to US$75,000.

He explained that former Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Eugene Shannon and his former Deputy E.C.B. Jones, got involved when a special flight from South Africa on April 14, 2010, carrying executives of the company including Andrew Groves, conveyed to them US$500,000.

The company’s record stated that the two men received US$250,000 each.

Onanuga is said to have received US$50,000 to influence the passage of
the Act, while Senator Morris Saytumah got US$50,000, then Speaker of of the House of Representatives Alex Tyler received US$75,000.

Mr. Willie Belleh of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission took US$10,000, and Cllr. Sherman pocketed US$200,000 for the ruling Unity Party Convention but later converted same to his own use, among others.

Meanwhile, defense counsels have filed an application calling for the setting aside of email evidences and other communications gathered by the state.

They are expected to show reasons why these documents should not be used
in court against their clients.

As the trial continues next week, it is not clear whether current government officials being tried will continue to perform their duties as they are required to be in court on every day of the trial.
LINA BMK/TSS/PTK

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