MONROVIA – Legal fireworks are said to be taking place at the Temple of Justice where the unprecedented USD100m worth of cocaine case has been ongoing, with weeks already gone just as one of the defendants standing trials, Mallam Conte took the stand but found himself giving contradictory statements on how and why he travelled from his country of nativity, Guinea Bissau where at some point he stated that he came to Liberia to do gold business and later said he came to be involved in fishery business.
The Cocaine importation legal battle before Judge A. Blamo Dixon witnessed the Ministry of Justice prosecution team resting with the production of their witnesses in the ongoing trial on Monday, the 10th of April, 2023 giving the defense council the opportunity to take control of the proceedings.
The court, in its 48 days of jury sitting on Tuesday, April 11, granted the defense lawyers the right to begin the production of their witnesses for the purpose of proving that they are not guilty of the crimes levied against them by the prosecution.
Taking the witness stand on Thursday, defendant, Malam Conte, a Guinea Bissau national when asked by the defense lawyers to tell the court and jury why he came to Liberia and when, he replied saying that “I came to Liberia on the 19 of September, on the invite of a friend identified as Gustavo to do Gold business.”
He further informed the court that he knew Gustavo in Guinea Bissau for about six months before coming to Liberia on his invitation.
When asked as to why he was invited by Gustavo, defendant Conte added that “Gustavo invited me to come to Liberia to do gold business.
The defendant further revealed that after he was being informed by his friend that he does not have control over the English language, he then decided to find a friend that he was pleased with to help him (Adulai Djibri Djalo) out.
Conte, after informing the court and the jury that his mission to Liberia was to do gold business, later told the court where he got involved with the importation of frozen food.
The defendant further explained that when he arrived in Liberia, he and Djibri Djalo were at the Royal Grand hotel and after Gustavo’s arrival, they both later moved to Boulevard hotel.
While at Boulevard Hotel, the defendant added that Gustavo asked that they should find potential importers of frozen food to Liberia instead of a Gold mining site.
“Mr. Witness, what happened in your search for an importer of frozen food in Liberia? How did your search end or what did your search produce?”
On answering to the lawyer’s question, the witness said, “When he asked for that, we decided to do the search asking for some entities herein in the city of Monrovia that import frozen food; and then we found the entity THR was in our idea one of the best importers in the country, saying that Gustavo said his friend in government that was interested in him most, wanted to help with the importation of seven containers of frozen food.
He said this also means that a government official is linked to this huge quantity of cocaine that was confiscated sometime last year at the Free Port of Monrovia, continuing that on the 1st of October he (Conte), and Dialo met Gustavo and Conte, and begged Gustavo in the car that Conte had USD$200, 000 to do the payment to the entity where Gustavo said there were persons waiting.
According to him, when he got at THR Company’s office, he entered a room that has six Lebanese nationals and noted that he introduced himself as the director of commence for the company .
Defendant Conte further revealed that Samuel Nimely, who is the general manager of the company, was seated when the sale manager requested the bag containing money requested to pay.
The defendant, who had earlier come to do gold business, could not explain to the court how such plans of mining gold in the country surface, but was later diverted by a friend who wanted to sponsor the campaign of another friend who works in government.
This could open up another wound if this friend who works in government was named in the testimony by the defendant. “Which one of these politicians could this be, ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections in the country any time from now,” the prosecution wondered without an answer. .
As it stands, our judicial correspondent said the defendants are to testify to the crimes of money laundering among others at Criminal Court “C”.
The defendants asked for continuation of the trial which request was triggered after prosecution on Monday, April 10, rested with their witness.
The four defendants and others to be identified, who are linked to the recent US$100 million cocaine bust, were indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County.
The indictment was on charges of money laundering, as well as unlicensed possession and importation of controlled drugs, and criminal conspiracy.
Defendants Malam Conte, Adulai Djibri Djalo, Makki Admeh Issam and Oliver A. Zayzay and others to be identified were indicted on the four counts by the Grand Jury.
The four counts in the indictment noted that Conte, Djalo and Issam, Zayzay, and others to be identified, conspired, colluded, and facilitated to commit the crime of Money Laundering, which is a felony of the first degree, and the unlicensed importation of controlled drug or substance.
The other crimes charged against them are unlicensed possession of controlled drugs or substances which is also a felony of the first degree and criminal conspiracy, a felony of the second Degree.
The trial continues.