Liberia's Supreme Court endorses ex-leader's trial

Liberia's Supreme Court has endorsed the prosecution of the country's former head of state Charles Gyude Bryant on charges of economic sabotage, it was announced in the capital Monrovia Monday.

Liberia's Supreme Court endorses ex-leader's trial

Liberia's Supreme Court has endorsed the prosecution of the country's former head of state Charles Gyude Bryant on charges of economic sabotage, it was announced in the capital Monrovia Monday.

The court rejected a writ of prohibition filed by lawyers representing Bryant, setting the stage for Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's government to continue with his prosecution.

Bryant was the chairman of the Transitional Government of Liberia between October 2003 and January 2006. The transitional government was part of the peace agreement that ended the country's second civil war, which had raged since the rebellion against former president Charles Taylor in 1999.

Like Taylor, Bryant's "economic sabotage" case is a precedent as far as corruption in Liberia is concerned.

Taylor is the first former Liberian head of state to face prosecution.

Chief Justice Johnnie N Lewis said the head of state was "only immune to prosecution under article 61 if he or she acts in accordance with the law."

The court argued that Bryant was not an elected president and therefore could not be free from prosecution for actions or crimes committed during his tenure as head of state.

According to the court, Bryant became head of state as the result of a peace agreement reached in Accra, Ghana, in 2003 when a portion of Liberia's constitution was suspended.

The ruling means that Bryant is now due to appear before Criminal Court A in Monrovia to answer to charges of economic sabotage.

The former head of state has been accused by Sirleaf's government to have misappropriated over 1 million dollars of state resources while serving as transitional head as the government is cracking down on corruption.

Bryant had advanced an argument that as former head of state, he was covered by Article 61 of the Liberian constitution to protect him from prosecution.

Bryant's lead counsel, Counsellor Theophilus C Gould, told reporters that the defence team would make use of what he called "other legal means."

"This could include filing another petition with the Supreme Court," Gould said without elaborating further.

Bryant, a businessman, was selected by the warring factions during the internationally-brokered Accra peace talks in 2003 as a compromise candidate to head a transitional government to conduct free and fair elections.

He led the country in a power-sharing government of warring factions from October 14, 2003 to January 16, 2006 when he handed power over to President Sirleaf.

The former transitional parliament passed a unanimous binding resolution calling on the succeeding government to audit all income and expenditure of the Bryant-led government.

DPA

Last Mod: 27 Ağustos 2007, 23:51
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