Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 January 2021:
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has today published a statement to inform the general public that the Court of Appeal in Freetown, presided by the honourable Justice Miatta Maria Samba, the honourable Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay, and the honourable Justice Sulaiman Bah, yesterday 19th January 2021, upheld corruption conviction and jail-term sentence handed down to Edward King and Sorieba Kamara, both former officials of the Ministry of Information and Communication.
On the 27th February 2019, Edward King who was the Acting Director of Information, and Sorieba Kamara – a Senior Accountant in the Ministry of Information and Communication, were both sentenced to three years mandatory imprisonment, following their conviction at the High Court in Freetown, presided by Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi for corruption offences.
Their conviction came after they pleaded guilty to the counts of Misappropriation of Public Funds and Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1); Failure to Comply with Applicable Procedures and Guidelines Relating to the Management of Public Funds, contrary to Section 48(2)b; and failure to pay tax payable to a public body, contrary to Section 48(1)d of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, arising from the Two Hundred and Six Million Leones (Le206,000,000) that was said to have been partly misappropriated following the allocation of funds for Commissions of Inquiry sensitizations by the Ministry of Information and Communication.
In the judgment, the three Justices of the Appeals Court dismissed their grounds of appeal, and upheld the trial Judge’s conviction and sentence against both Appellants to a mandatory prison term of three years.
The ACC says that it “appreciates the judgment of the Appeals Court Justices, in upholding the custodial sentence, earlier handed down, as it serves as an effective deterrent to persons who would want to engage in acts of corruption and welcomes such bold move and posture from the Judiciary.
“The ACC also wishes to reassure the general public of its determination to curb all levels of corruption throughout Sierra Leone.”
Many in Sierra Leone will no doubt welcome the custodial sentencing of corrupt public officials, following the ACC’s standard policy of pursuing out of court settlement to recover stolen funds, without punishing criminals for wrongdoing. But many would also question whether custodial sentencing will be handed down to former and current government ministers found guilty of corruption.