Sierra Leone ready to quiz ex-government officials over graft

People walk past Sierra Leone's high court in Freetown, Sierra Leone March 24, 2018. Photo : REUTERS

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – Sierra Leone has named three separate judges to head commissions of enquiries to investigate former government officials accused of serious corruption and financial embezzlement.

The Commissions will begin work early January 2019 and will hear cases in the former UN-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone in the capital, Freetown.

Sierra Leone’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Princilla Schwartz, made the announcement on Monday at a press conference held within the Presidency in Freetown.

She assured the public that all logistics to facilitate the inquiries were already in place but did not specify the number of accused officials to face the inquiries.

An enquiry commission set up by President Julius Maada Bio following his election in March discovered massive cases of corruption by former government officials of ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma’s ousted regime.

President Bio had argued that his administration inherited plundered revenue in the hope to retrieve stolen money stashed abroad.

Many suspected former government officials have been ordered to remain in the country to face the inquiry commission while some those who fled abroad are being rounded up for extradition to Freetown.

The African Press Agency correspondent in Freetown said the government of Sierra Leone hopes to make use of international accountability institutions, like the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, to recover alleged stolen moneys hidden in foreign countries.

Sources close to government said several millions of dollars were stolen by the former government officials during the 12 year-rule of ex-President Ernerst Bai Koroma, himself left out of the inquiry.

© Bur-csa – A.H – N.A / From our regional correspondent Tamba Jean-Matthew III – African Daily Voice (ADV) – Follow us on Twitter : @ADVinfo_eng