Sierra Leone: Alpha Timbo, 4 Others to Be Tried By Judge and Jury

Former Minister of Labour, Alpha Timbo, Deputy Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Emily Kadiatu Gogra, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Basic Secondary School Education(MBSSE), Charles Tom Kamanda, Director of Nutrition, School Feeding, MBSSE, Mamusu Massaquoiu Zainab, and Binta Kamara, a businesswoman at Lion Inn, will be tried by Judge and Jury.

The ruling was given by Justice Cosmotina Jarrett after all five accused persons made their second appearance on Tuesday, May 19.

This is the first Anti-Corruption Commission matter that would be tried by Judge and Jury after the prosecution, Lawyer Mantesbo, informed the court that they have not received any certificate by way of a fiat from the Office of the Attorney-General for the case to be tried by Judge alone.

He said the court was notified that a certificate would be issued by the Attorney-General under Section 144(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act(CPA) in order to facilitate the trial by Judge alone, but that the Attorney General could not issue the certificate that would have had the case proceeded under the provision of Section 145 and 144 (1) of the 1965 CPA, which allow for the accused persons to make an election as to the mode of trial.

But the Judge further cited Section 143 of the CPA of 1965 as amended.

All five defense counsels informed the court that their clients preferred trial by Judge and Jury, to ensure speedy trial of their case as the charges are hanging over their heads.

Defense counsel for the 1st accused, Lawyer O. Jalloh, submitted that the provision in part 4 of the CPA of 1965 as amended firstly apply for proceedings before the court, adding that the procedure before the court was to determine whether the person was brought before the court on committal or pursuant to the ACC Act.

He said notwithstanding the provisions of 143 and 144(1) which primarily deals with committal, there is a provision for an accused person to be tried by a Judge alone on the fiat of the AG.

He further said that if there was a fiat from the AG then the accused persons' election under 145 to be tried by Judge alone is mandatory.

"I pray that the Judge grants ruling on the trial of these accused people to be by Judge and Jury."

In her ruling, Justice Cosmotina Jarrett ruled that, "I have heard the election of the accused persons to be tried by Judge and Jury pursuant to Section 143 (b) of the CPA of 1965 which makes it mandatory for trial by Judge and Jury."

Justice Jarrett also informed the prosecution that they should have special session for the matter to continue as it can commence even when sessions are closed.

The five accused person were charged on 15 counts charges on misappropriation of public property, failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines, conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, converting property knowing same to be proceeds of corruption for the purpose of disguising the illicit origin, and abuse of office, contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act of 2018 that between October 2019 and December 2019, it was allege that the accused persons stole 49,000 bags of 50kg rice each, meant for the school feeding programme.

The case was adjourned to Tuesday May 26, 2020.

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