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Law Court loses Le40m in mysterious inferno

SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 By Hawa Amara

Deputy Master and Registrar of the Sierra Leone Judiciary yesterday disclosed that the court lost a total of Le40 million to a mysterious inferno on Wednesday night which broke out in the office of the Undersheriff.

Mohamed S. Samura told Concord Times that on the night of the incident he was about leaving the building when he was informed about the inferno in the Undersheriff’s (Fatta Deen Gabisi) office.

He explained that he immediately dialled 999 to alert the Fire Force, but the call didn’t go through, before he notified Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh. “I authorized people that were around to break the door of the said office to put-off the fire which they did before the arrival of the Fire Force team. The recent documents were not affected by the blaze but only ‘old and not-in-use documents’ were burnt together with the safe were monies were kept,” Samura told Concord Times.

He quoted the Undersheriff to have said that the sum of Le51 million was inside the safe, although they could only retrieve Le10,485,000 (ten million, four hundred and eighty-five thousand Leones).

He disclosed that the remainder of the money was in the custody of police officers who are investigating the blaze.

Meanwhile, Chief Fire Officer Kamanda Bongay has expressed dissatisfaction over the action of police officers who ordered court officials to vacate the scene of the blaze, while the debris – vital source of any credible investigation – were taken away before the fire officers arrived at the scene.

“Most of the burnt items which we should rely on for our investigation have been taken away by the police. They have no business with issues relating to fire as it is the responsibility of us to investigate and present our findings to them,” he said.

Wednesday’s incident was not the first in the history of the judiciary as the building itself had been a target of a suspicious arson attack in the past. However, like in the past, it remains highly unlikely that any meaningful headway will be made in investigating the full cause of the incident and/or preventing it from happening in future, a legal practitioner remarked.

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