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By Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus
The Minister of Justice’s indictment in the US$100m cocaine case, charging the crimes of “money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, unlicensed importation of controlled drug and criminal conspiracy” was a complete CHARADE!
The police investigative report upon which the indictment was drawn was INCONCLUSIVE. It said in its conclusion that “funding for the continuation of this investigation” was needed. There was lot that was left undone, and the police raised a red flag about the alleged refusal of TRH and Bilal Abraham and their collaborators to cooperate with the investigation and to ascertain as to how these containers were imported into the country.
Further, the police in the report, pleaded with the Minister of Justice to issue a red alert through INTERPOL to arrest Gustavos Henrique, who is alleged to be on the run, and to also allow them to “have full access to the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport in order to conclude this investigation” but there is no indication whatsoever, that these requests were ever granted or that the police ever completed its investigation. But for our ‘great’ Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, there was no need for further investigation; no need to order the arrest of Gustavos Henrique, no need to for the police to invite and question George Abi Jaoudi, Bilal Abraham and TRH. What was uppermost in his mind, and which he poorly thinks everyone will blindly accept, was to rush to court, while shielding the actual potential culprits and admit into evidence at trial, the INCONCLUSIVE police report and get a GUILTY VERDICT! What may be strange, is the timing of how this scam is played out but the pattern of lies, recrimination and gossips is the same from Frank Musa Dean’s playbook.
In part 1 of this article, we indicated that a criminal indictment is drawn on the basis of a “probable cause”, which, from the perspective of the prosecution, is a presumption that the whoever is being investigated or arrested is in fact responsible for the commission of the crime(s) charged until the court can say otherwise. A rather vague and indistinct criminal indictment as in the case of the US$100m cocaine, becomes inconsequential, and is dismissible, if it woefully fails to coherently and definitively charge a crime. See 16.7 of 1LC Revised.
The purported indictment by the ‘honorable’ Minister of Justice in the US$100m Cocaine case was more of a fairy tale both in content and character, which made it absolutely untenable by any reasonable standard in any criminal prosecution. Apart from the litany of incoherent averments contained therein, there was a flagrant disregard for the simple truth or common sense or both, and a brazen demonstration of hasty generalizations, asinine innuendos and half-truths which unwittingly unmasked what became a barrage of shameful contractions between what exactly the indictment was charging, and how the alleged crimes were committed.
For the sake of this article, let us take a quick look at few of the averments and the police report upon which it was drawn. In count 2 of the indictment, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean as follows: “That Co-defendant Conte was arrested while attempting to purchase a 40(forty) foot container bearing reference number: MNBU4070592 containing 520kg of cocaine with street value of US$100,000,000 ( One Hundred Million United States Dollars) at the business Center of Sonit Liberia Corporation.” Based on what the Minister has said, it means the Co-defendant Conte “was about to, or was in the process of” buying the US$100,000,000 (One Hundred Million United States Dollars) worth of cocaine from Sonit Liberia Corporation” when he was arrested. That said, we can safely say that Co-defendant Conte was not in possession of the cocaine; did not import any cocaine but was simply attempting to buy the cocaine from Sonit Liberia Corporation” when he was arrested. But as clear as this averment in the indictment Co-defendant Conte was arrested and indicted for “money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, unlicensed importation of controlled drug and criminal conspiracy” while Sonit Liberia Corporation” which was the proprietor of the cocaine, was left out.
In count 3 of the indictment, the Minister of Justice writes: “That prior to the arrival of the said container at the Freeport of Monrovia, Defendant Malam Conte, a citizen of Guinea Bissau and Adulai Djibril Djalo, a Portuguese citizen arrived in Monrovia, Liberia on September 19, 2022, in anticipation of the arrival of the container containing the compressed cocaine.” From this statement, one can conclude that Co-defendants Malam Conte, a citizen of Guinea Bissau and Adulai Djibril Djalo, a Portuguese, were the owners of the “container containing the compressed cocaine” according to count 3 but in count 2 of the same indictment Co-defendant Conte was arrested while attempting to purchase a 40(forty) foot container.” So, it means the defendants who are said to be the owners of the cocaine, were again buying their own cocaine from TRH? If indeed Co-defendants Malam Conte and Adulai Djibril Djalo, were the owners of the cocaine, as Minister Frank Musa Dean Jr., the ‘great’ Minister of Justice wants the public to believe, is it possible for the defendants to have attempted to purchasing their own cocaine? So, it means they were purchasing the cocaine from themselves, right? Sadly, this is what the Minister of Justice calls an indictment. The defendants are the importers of the cocaine, according to the indictment and so, they went to TRH to buy their own cocaine, bla, bla, blaaa. What a joke!
Further, in count 10 of the same indictment, the Minister of Justice provided a contradictory reason for arresting and charging Co-defendant Conte. He alleges in count 10 as follows: “That during the intervening hours of 1:00 PM or thereabout, Co-defendant Malam Conte was arrested by officers of the Joint security of Liberia for been (meant being) in possession of US$200,000(Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) which he claimed was given to him by Co-defendant Adulai Djibril Djalo, a Portuguese national.”
Again, we are confused about the actual of objective for arresting Co-defendant Conte. The question then is, was Malam Conte arrested for attempting to purchase his “own” US$100m worth of cocaine from the business center of Sonit Liberia Corporation or for being in possession of US$200,000? Assuming arguendo that the answer to this question is yes, which should not be the case, did the ‘honorable Minister establish or provide any evidence at trial to prove that the defendants were caught in possession of cocaine, or did he provide evidence to prove the crimes of unlicensed importation of drugs and money-laundering?
Besides, the Special Investigation Team (SIT)’s report highlighted a number of concerns in counts 5, 6, 8 and 11, which the Minister deliberately swept under the carpet for some vested interest. The police findings revealed as follows:
1. Count 5: The defendants arrived on September 19, 23, 2022 to take of US$100m worth cocaine under the pretext of buy frozen food from Tania Rinia Houssein Trading Corporation (TRH);
2. Count 6: The defendant fled the country having realized that their plan to get hold of the US$100m worth cocaine under false pretense was aborted by the security forces of Liberia;
3. Count 8: The investigation established that Bilal Abraham is the owner of Tani Rina Houssein(TRH) and has 50% shares in fresh frozen food located at Bong Mines Piers; and
4. Count 11. The proprietor Tania Rinia Houssein(TRH), Bilal Abrham was invited by the investigation to make clarity as to his company involvement into importation of containers number: “MNBU4070592 and SUDU6082664 which had onboard cocaine and frozen food but failed to cooperate.
In count 11 of the investigative findings Bilal Abraham and TRH were accused of refusing to cooperate with the police and to clarify how containers number “MNBU4070592 and SUDU6082664 were brought into the country. As glaring as the collusion of these individuals were in the drugs bust, the Minister of Justice ignored their individual and corporate roles as importers and custodians of the cocaine and designated them for parochial reason as “whistleblowers” and thereby left them out of the indictment. What else should be construed as collusion and dereliction of duty than this?
Due to the prolixity, the Honorable Minister inadvertently called out the name of the true culprits in count 23 of the indictment which is quoted ad verbatim as follow: “That the container containing the cocaine was imported from Brazil by TRH, where the harmful drugs were clandestinely placed in the contained before shipping to Monrovia”. Here, the Honorable Minister has clearly identified TRH owned by Bilal Abraham as the importer of the cocaine, but none was indicted.
That being the case, there are few issues that must be take into consideration and they as follows:
1. The defendants were attempting to purchase their own cocaine.
2. The indictment identified TRH and Bilal Abraham as the importers of the containers containing the US$100m worth of cocaine. (See count 23);
3. The defendants were trying to get hold of the US$100m worth cocaine under false pretense (See count 5 of the investigative findings);
4. That attempting to receiving a property as in the instant case, under false pretense, is synonymous to theft of property, means there’s an actual owner of the property;
5. That TRH is owned by Bilal Abraham and George Abi Jaoudi; they were the owners and custodian of the cocaine when the defendants attempted to get hold of it under false pretense, yet, none was ever invited and investigated; and
6. That although there’s compelling evidence to prove that TRH imported the US$100m cocaine, but it refused to cooperate with investigators.
Based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, we believe that entire trial that was more of a “wild goose” chase due to lack of evidence. And therefore, the President of the Republic of Liberia should appoint a special Independent Counsel to investigate and prosecute the actual culprits involved in the US$ 100m cocaine case.
Source of original article: Liberia news The New Dawn Liberia, premier resource for latest news (thenewdawnliberia.com).
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