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Sierra Leone News: ACC/passports trial – Court seeks opinion of handwriting expert

The High Court of Sierra Leone has sought the opinion of a handwriting expert in the alleged criminal trial of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) against Alfred Kallon (1st accused), the former human resources officer at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar-General, Alie Ibrahim Kanu, (2nd accused), former Chair of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), and Sulaiman Issa Turay (3rd accused), Head of Consular Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 1st and 3rd accused denied signing documents relating to the matter, thus forcing the Court to seek expert advice. On the instructions of the presiding Judge, Justice Miata Samba, a handwriting expert from the Scientific Support Department at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters, Joseph Abubakarr Sanu, appeared at the Siaka Stevens Street High Court in Freetown as a witness on Wednesday 10th April 2019. The witness was handed several documents among which were: The ACC interview statements of the 1st and 3rd accused; documents titled Request for ECOWAS service passport. Some of them bear the letterhead of the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General and others bearing the letter head of the Accountant General Department. The witness was also handed a letter addressed to the Chief Immigration Officer. Some of the documents bear the signature of the 1st accused while others bear the signature of the 3rd accused. The accused admitted that they signed the ACC interview statements but denied signing the others. The witness identified the various documents and requested that a new handwriting sample be collected from each of the accused. He further requested that the Court grant him three weeks to examine the various specimens and prepare a report. The Court granted the application and adjourned the matter to 8th May 2019. The accused Alfred Kallon, Alie Ibrahim Kanu who was also, former Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, and Sulaiman Issa Turay conspired to commit corruption offences. They are facing 42 charges of corruption offences. The former IMC Chair, Kanu, is before the Court on five counts while Kallon, the former Human Resource officer at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar-General is charged with 34 counts and Turay, head of consular affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is charged with four count charges. Kanu is charged with conspiracy to commit corruption offences and Peddling Influence contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008. According to the ACC, Kanu, between January and September 2018, used his influence to recommend non-deserving persons to obtain Sierra Leone service passports and to apply for visas at foreign embassies. Turay is also charged with Conspiracy to Commit Corruption Offences and Abuse of Office. Turay is said to have served as an initial conduit to the development of fake appointment letters to enable non-deserving persons to obtain service passports while Kallon, who is charged with Conspiracy to Commit a Corruption offence was responsible for the processing and recommending and issuance of the said service passports. The accused denied the allegations. They are on Le500 million bail each.

EBD/10/4/19

By Edna Browne-Dauphine

Thursday April 11, 2019.

 

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