30 October 2018

Sierra Leone: Hajj Gate Trial - Key Prosecution Witness Reportedly On the Run

The Hajj gate trial involving a former Vice President and five top ex-government officials could be faced with setback after a key prosecution witnesses reportedly fled the jurisdiction.

On 20th October, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) prosecutor Calvin Mantesebo had pleaded for a week-long adjournment to summon one of his key witnesses.

Mantesebo, who has so far led six witnesses to prove his case against the accused persons, had promised Justice Reginald Fynn that the next witness would attend the hearing yesterday.

Though he didn't pronounce the name of the absentee witness in the open court, one of the prosecuting counsel was heard whispering that their principal witnesses, Nuru Deen Sankoh Yilllah, has fled the jurisdiction and his whereabouts was unknown.

As a result, the prosecution was unable to put the witness in the witness box, but promised to subpoena him to attend court 12 November.

The erstwhile Vice President Victor Foh, Sheka Sahid Kamara, Minkailu Mansaray, Ibrahim Fackeh Conteh, Mohamed Bah and Abu Bakarr Carew are alleged to have conspired to siphon money meant for the 2017 Hajj programme.

The men were charged to court in August this year to answer to eight counts of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, misappropriation of public funds and engaging in a project without prior planning. They have all denied the charges.

Meanwhile, Justice Reginald Sydney Fynn has urged the prosecution to use everything in their powers to lead their next witness on the next adjourned date.

The matter continues.

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