State prosecutors suffered a major defeat in a US$837,950 theft of property case yesterday involving the suspended Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) and her Comptroller, when the court denied prosecution’s exception and granted the defense motion.
Delivering the final ruling on the motion and its exception at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia on Tuesday, Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh said Matilda W. Parker and Christiania K. Paeley were indicted by the grand jury of Montserrado County for the alleged crimes of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy in the amount of US$837, 950.
Judge Gbeneweleh told the court that the movants/defendants obtained an insurance bond from the Family Dollars Universal Insurance Services (FDUIS) as a surety in the tone of US$1.2 million to insure their appearance, which bond, he said was filed on July 21, 2015 and approved by the court.
He cited case, Hassan Nasser v. Frank W. Smith and Oliver Bright as found 26LLR, in which he said, Justice Horace, speaking for the Supreme Court held that: “the amount of bail which may be required of defendant in a criminal action is fixed by statute, and any amount in excess falls within the constitutional prohibition against excessive bail”.
He noted that section 10 of Article 1 of the constitution provides that: “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor excessive punishment inflicted”.
He said the prosecution filed an 11-count exception to the bail bond of the defendants on July 24, 2015, praying the court to set aside the said bond on grounds that it is defectively and grossly insufficient.
The Presiding Judge said the prosecution cited judicial order number one as their reliance which stipulates among other things that a defendant in a criminal case, who tendered insurance bond where restitution is required, should present the following.
He said the prosecution contended that the insurance company must have an Article of Incorporation, registration of the business with the appropriate government ministry, clearance from the Ministry of Finance evidencing that taxes have been paid, evidence of assets within the Republic of Liberia, to commensurate with the amount charged in the indictment or writ of arrest.
The Judge added that the prosecution argued that FDUIS did not show any evidence from any legal authority by possessing assets in Liberia sufficient to cover the obligation undertaken by the said insurance company.
The judge pointed out that a careful perusal of the insurance bond filed by the defendants showed that the bond met all the requirements to execute criminal appearance in Liberia.