Corruption case prolongs at High Court

Corruption case prolongs at High Court

The case involving three government officials from the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion and Development Organization (HeDO) has continued to be prolonged at the High Court presided over by Justice Jaiteh due to delay in accessing clear official documents. 

The trio is Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, Balla Kandeh, programme manager of the Malaria Control Programme, and Omar Malle Ceesay, executive director of HePDO.

The accused persons were charged with 5 counts of theft, 8 counts of forgery, 2 counts of economic crime, 1 count of disobedience of statutory duty, 1 count of official corruption, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit a felony.

On 29, 30 and 31 January 2024, the state called one Karim S. Darboe, a witness and an accountant at the project coordinating unit under the Ministry of Health as he was mentioned by previous witnesses regarding the case.

Karim stated in court that he was not in possession of the documents the court requested, adding that the documents were forwarded to the Local Fund Agency which requested them for a review.

He explained that the Local Fund Agency was responsible for the review of the internal audit findings since the Global Fund assigned them to do so.

He said the review was done in 2021 but later, he did not know what happened to the files supposed to be returned to HePDO.

Sheriff Corr, Police Investigator at the Fraud Squad, testified in court that during their investigation, other files like study reports, curriculum vitae (CV) and contracts documents were recovered between the Ministry of Health and the Global Fund.

He added that the study reports were related to the studies that were conducted by the said consultants and the CVs and contracts of those consultants were recovered by the second accused, Omar Malleh Ceesay. 

During the course of the investigation, he testified, they requested every document related to the case but those mentioned were the ones they were provided with.

The state prosecutor, DPP A.M. Yusuf, applied to tender the documents in court but the defence counsel, L.S Camara, objected based on the fact that the documents sought to be tendered were not listed on the list of exhibits filed in the bill of indictment.

Counsel Camara further stated that the proper procedure in a criminal trial was to include all documents in the bill of indictment and serve the defence, adding that they were served but it was not indicated on the list of indictments.

The defence counsel further argued that, for the CVs and the reports to be rendered admissible they ought to be certified, which is to be a public document according to the Evidence Act.

DPP A.M. Yusuf also argued that there was nothing that showed that the CVs were not public documents, saying HePDO is not a public body and the so-called consultants were not engaged by any public body or government agency. “Therefore, the CVs cannot be said to be a public document,” he argued.

The case was adjourned until 5 February 2023

Source: The Point

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