The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Samukai, Others Found Guilty, But…

By Grace Q. Bryant
The Judge of the Criminal Court ‘C’ Yamie Gbeisay has released a guilty verdict in favor of the State against the former Defense Minister J. Brownie Samukai and two other former Defense staff but the defendants’ legal team took an exception to the court’s ruling.
“The defendants are hereby ordered to restitute the amount of US$ 687,656.35 to the AFL Pension Saving Account and US$ 460,000 to the Government of Liberia Account totaling a sum of USD 1,147,656.35,” the Judge ruled.
Defendants Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister and J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller, all of Ministry of National Defense along with their boss, defendant Samukai were indicted and charged with the crimes of Theft Property, Criminal Conspiracy, Economic Sabotage, Misuse of public money and Money Laundering but in the court’s ruling only the crimes of ‘Theft of Property, Misused of Public Money and Criminal Conspiracy’ were proven.
According to Judge Gbeisay, the court did not see the element of Economic Sabotage and it is not persuaded by the prosecution testimonies and argument that the crime of Money Laundering was committed by the defendants therefore, the court dismissed the crimes of Money Laundering and Economic Sabotage against the defendants.
But in the court’s opinion, the facts and circumstances of the commission of the crimes against the AFL in the proceedings by the defendants to withdraw funds from the AFL account by their directive and authority using the comptroller of the Ministry of Defense was an act that was carried out illegally, wrongfully, intentionally and as such Criminal conspiracy will lied against the defendants.
The Judge stressed that the manner in which the defendants used the money squarely falls within the definition of 15.81© of the penal Code quoted ”A person is guilty of first degree felony, if he (c) disposes of, uses, or transfers, any interest in property which has been entrusted to him as a fiduciary and in his capacity as a public servant or any officer of an institution in a manner he knows is not authorized and that he knows will involve risk of lost or detriment to the owner of the property or to the government of Liberia ,or other persons for who benefits the property was entrusted.”
According to Judge Gbeisay, the fact that the money subject of dispute is private and personal money of the AFL, the action of the minister falls squarely within the definition of Theft of property as found on section 51.51(a) of Penal Law, because the Minister Knowingly takes misappropriate, converts and exercise unauthorized control over the AFL’s pension funds.
The Judge stated that the defendants violated 20(a) of the Constitution of Liberia which states, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of person, property, privilege or any other right, except as an outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provision laid down in this constitution and in according with due process of Law.”
The indictment recognized that the account was based upon salaries deductions and was established to provide benefits for wounded AFL Soldiers, families of dead AFL soldiers and was intended to supplement pension package to personnel of AFL upon retirement from active service which was opened under the signatures of co-defendant Samukai and defendant Dorkor as “B” signature.

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