The assigned judge at the Criminal Court "C" Temple of Justice, Peter Gbenewelleh, has granted request made by indicted former Commerce Minister Miata Beysolow to have a separate trial.
The former Commerce Minister and other government officials were indicted by the LACC on charges including misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) procedures.
Judge Peter Gbenewelleh said based upon the averment of the movant and that of the resistance to the motion there was only one issue determinative of the facts and circumstances contained in the motion whether or not she was entitled to a separate trial on the defenses contained in the motion.
He further indicated on Thursday that: "the motion filed by the movant meets the statutory and constitutional requirements under our law, practice and procedures."
"The records showed that the co-defendant's statement and defenses are hostile and antagonistic to the defenses of the other co-defendants as evident on the face of the indictment and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigative report," he added.
According to him, this was in cognizant of the Supreme Court of Liberia's opinion found in the case: William Bryant vs Republic of Liberia, 6LLR, 128, syllabus 9. He noted that the Supreme Court's opinion states that: "when several defendants are jointly indicted, a motion for severance trial should be granted as a matter of rights if, upon the face of the indictment there is no casual connection between the party of the indictment and the LACC's investigative report".
Accordingly, regarding said issue, the court maintained that the motion by the defendant for severance was a pretrial motion that does not require entering into plea of guilty or not guilty, but rather a testimony of the movant "which are patently hostile and antagonistic" to the other.
Moreover, the judgement of the judge to grant former indicted Commerce Minister severance trial was as a result of a 13 count-motion filed on the 9th of April 2016 on grounds that her defenses clashed with other co-defendants regarding the indictment.
She noted that the persons so charged are separate and distinct individuals, the differences of the accused are not the same and there is not a causal link between the movant's conduct and the conducts of the other co-defendants.
However, prosecution also filed a motion to dismiss motion earlier filed by defense council on May 11, 2016 on grounds that the request made by the co-defendant was intended to frustrate and delay the trial.
Prosecution said: "it serves to prejudice respondent since substantial amount of additional resources will be required to prosecute the same case twice, adding that respondent will be deprived of the opportunity of establishing a conspiratorial link between the movant and other co-defendants if granted the motion.
"None of the others has entered a plea to set forth any defense that may clash with or be antagonistic to the defenses of the movant," the prosecution added. Meanwhile, the court said it is a fundamental principle of the law that every person charged with a crime shall have the right to free, fair, impartial and speedy trial as guaranteed by the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.