In the alleged corruption matter between the State against the former Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ambassador Alimamy Kamara, High Court Judge, Justice Hannah Bonnie on wednesday 13 october over-ruled the no-case submission made by Lawyer Africanus Sorie Sesay, a defense counsel for an on behalf of the accused person, Ambassador Alimamy Kamara, and thereby ruled that the accused has a case to answer.
The ruling was delivered yesterday at the Anti-Corruption Commission Court sitting on the main Law Courts Building Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown, in the presence of both the State Prosecutor Joel Tejan Deen Tarawallie, the accused person who appeared in a grey suit, and his defense team.
The Judge, in her ruling dated 12th October 2022 said section 119 subsections 6 and 7 of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act of 2008 as amended 2019 does not tie to section 122a of the ACC Act. Reliability of evidence, Justice Bonnie said is not relevant at this stage and in conclusion stated that the prosecution evidence before the court established a prima-facie.
The said section of the law (119) and its sub-section Justice Hannah Bonnie said that she was of the view that is not a considered precedent in the State charge sheet. She went on that the section is administrative, and failure to adhere to its provision does not deprive the court of jurisdiction.
To establish a prima-facie, the trial Judge said the prosecution should offer credible evidence in support of each piece of evidence led, and the argument of a no case is to answer by Defense Counsel; to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is not required at this stage of the case.
What is required, Justice Bonnie said as by principle on holding the court, is that the Judge should be satisfied that the accused person has a case to answer, and on submission of a no case to answer Counsel to consider that the prosecution has established a prima-facie case and if that is made out against the Defendant and the accused person then the Judge does not have to look at this stage as to whether all the ingredient are proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
As by section 119, sub-section 6 and 7, the accused person committed an offense by failing to follow due process which should give the court national jurisdiction to hear the matter.
In his no-case submission and argument, lead Defense Counsel Africanus Sorie Sesay submitted that the prosecution evidence is inadequate and insufficient to support its case, and also the prosecution did not treat the case with utmost seriousness.
The accused person Alimamy Kamara is answering nine counts related amended indictment dated 14th July 2021, ranging from failure to declare asset, and income liability contrary to section 122a of ACC Act No.12 of 2008 as amended by Act No.9 of 2019.
In the particulars of offense, the State alleged that Alimamy Kamara, having served in various capacities under the past All People’s Congress (APC) Administration of former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, as Member of Parliament in the Sierra Leone Parliament from the year 2007 to 2012 failed to furnish certain income and liability information to the ACC for the year 2012.
And having served as Minister of Youth Affairs of the Republic of Sierra Leone from 2013 to 2016 and as Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the Islamic Republic of Iran from 2016 to 2018 failed to declare or furnish income and liability information to the ACC for 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Based on an application made by the ACC Prosecutor, Joel Tejan Deen Tarawallie, the accused person Ambassador Alimamy Kamara was tried by a Judge Alone instead of a Judge and jurors. The application was made Under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965 as repealed in 1981. He (the accused) took a plea of not guilty on arraignment at the High Court, and on his first appearance was admitted to bail on his recognizance.
During the hearing, the prosecution led five witnesses including the head of the Civil Service, and witnesses from ACC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, following exhibits tendered in evidence in support of the Prosecution case. These exhibits include notice letters dated 12th October 2020, a statement of the accused person made and obtained at the ACC, an appointment letter of Alimamy Kamara to the position of Ambassador Extra-Ordinary designate to the Islamic Republic of Iran, a letter from the State House dated 19th March 2013 and letter from the Ministry Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
In his selection as by Law, the accused person Alimamy Kamara said he preferred to testify on oath and brings witnesses in his defense. Defense Counsel Africanus Sorie Sesay requested a month’s adjournment to prepare his witnesses. The month adjournment was objected to by the Prosecutor and he asked for a fortnight, a period of two weeks.
Justice Hannah Bonnie overruled the prosecutor on the grounds of fair play and called for a speedy hearing. The matter was adjourned to the 7th of November 2022 for the defense to open its case against the State.