Eight defendants accused of embezzling US$6m from the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) on Thursday pleaded not guilty as the 12-page indictment was read to them at Criminal Court ‘C’ Temple of Justice.
The not-guilty plea by the defendants has shifted the burden on state lawyers to provide evidence reasonable enough to convict the defendants, including
former Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Moses Wogbeh.
Lawyer representing Wogbeh and others led by Cllr. Yarmie Gbeisay informed the court that their clients waived jury trial, which automatically means that the trial will be solely handled by Judge Peter Gbeneweleh, who will also play the role of a jury de-facto.
But Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Daku Mulbah raised an objection against defense lawyer request to waived jury trial.
Judge Gbeneweleh will rule Friday on whether to grant or not to accept the defendants’ right to waive jury trial.
Defendant Wogbeh and others were accused on three counts economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, and forgery or counterfeiting.
They were indicted during the February 2015 Term of Court by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County, indicated that between April 2010 and up to December 2011.
Those indicted include Moses Wogbeh, the former Managing Director, FDA, John Kanto former Technical Manager, FDA, Jangar Kamara former manager Commercial Forestry FDA and Cllr. Benedict Sagbeh former in-house legal counsel.
Others are Augustine Johnson, a former manager, Torwan Yantay also a former manager, David Blayee, a surveyor of Grand Bassa County with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and Maxwell Gwee, a former director of cartography at the Ministry.