Lawyers for the former head of Liberia’s transitional government say their client did not misappropriate public funds and that it is up to the Liberian government to prove that Gyude Bryant embezzled public funds as head of state. Bryant, who served as transitional government leader from October 2003 to January 16, 2006, was arrested Tuesday and charged with converting one-point-four million dollars to his personal use.
Theophilus Gould is lead attorney for former head of state Gyude Bryant. He said Mr. Bryant, as head of state, acted within the confines of Liberian laws.
“We were not too happy for the incident because we believe that he has acted consistent with the law to bring about democratic rule in this country, and we believe that that was being too unfair to him for being a nationalist,” he said.
The government Tuesday charged Bryant with converting one-point-four million dollars to his personal use. But Gould said Bryant was acting in his capacity as head of state.
“The president has the authority to expend monies under our laws, and in the case of former chairman Bryant, he had to deal with warring factions, the outcome of the war, acute security problems and the rest of it. In fact, to even indict former Chairman Bryant is like indicting all the former leaders of the various warring factions because that government was the government intended to bring about an elected government. And in order to preserve the peace and to get where we are, a lot of things had to be done by the government,” he said.
Counselor Gould also said the indictment of former chairman Bryant was not fair because Bryant, unlike other transitional leaders who overstayed their time in office, was able to return Liberia to civilian rule.
He said Bryant’s indictment threatens the peace in Liberia. Counselor Gould also said the Liberian government indicted former Chairman Bryant to create an impression that it is fighting corruption.
“Legally for us, we believe that the government doesn’t have a case. I think they just want to prove to some would-be donors that they’re trying to “stop corruption” for the purpose of getting some aid or what have you. But other than that, I don’t think conscientiously, the government would be so serious to go after the former chairman against the background of what they have included in the indictment,” Gould said.