Written on May 31 2016 13:43:11. by The News from Liberia
The presiding judge of the Criminal Court 'A' has entertained argument into a motion filed by prosecutors, seeking to have access to the bank statements of Senator Varney Sherman, his law firm and former Senator Cletus Wortorson.
Last week, the state filed a subpoena duces tecum on International Bank, Liberia Limited, Eco- bank Liberia limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Liberia Limited, and Global bank Liberia Limited to bring before the court bank statements of the above individuals mentioned in the motion.
The motion is being triggered by a damning report released by the London based watchdog, Global Witness, in which it asserted that several past and current Liberian government officials allegedly took bribes to change Liberian concession laws in favor of the British Mining Company, Sable.
Global Witness said its report is based on leaked documents and email, exchanges between Liberian officials. The watchdog claimed that Senator Sherman was hired by Sable Mining to pass bribe Liberian officials, a claim which he denied.
In resistance to the writ of subpoena duces tecum, lawyers representing the accused asked the court to quash the motion on grounds that the movant/accused have not been arraigned before the court; hence, the motion should be quashed forthwith.
During the argument, Cllr. Cyril Jones represented Movants H. Varney Sherman and the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm while Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott represented Cletus Wortorson who argued the motion and the resistance respectively.
According to Cllr. Jones, there is no case pending before the court that requires a subpoena duces tecum to be issued by state prosecutors. He said seeking to quash the subpoena was filed because the request by the state sought to produce statements of these individuals and not the banks.
He argued that the state wants to have access to the personal accounts of these individuals which he believes is a gross violation of the individuals' rights to privacy.
“All we are saying, is let the proper thing be done and let the law takes its course and the affected party be granted due process of law,” Cllr. Jones contended.
For her part, Cllr. Gloria M. Scott, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, argued that the subpoena could be issued when it contains the tittle of an action. She explained that in this case, it would mean that a witness or witnesses would have to testify in the case, adding that there's no ongoing trial that requires a subpoena.
She concluded as saying that the scope and nature of the writ and the way it went to the court is “irregular, unlawful and totally against the constitution.”
Cllr. T.C Gould, arguing on behalf of the state, said that every law has relevant exception to ensure that improprieties are avoided. He said that the right to privacy cannot be played with when there is an order from the court.
Cllr. Gould contended that there has to be no pending action for subpoena of document that is inimical to the state survival where there is a security issue.
However, the court has reserved ruling in the case for May 30, 2016 at 10:AM.