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Misappropriation of public funds…

Two PPRC staff convicted, one discharged

February 3, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Justice Alusine Sesay of the Freetown High Court yesterday convicted two staff of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) for misappropriation of public funds, while a third accused was discharged.

Victor Hego Kamara – PPRC Mediation Officer in Kenema District, Robert Paine – PPRC Regional Registrar East, and Abraham John – Mediation and Programme Manager in Kenema, were arraigned on a range of 24 counts, including conspiracy, misappropriation of public funds, offering advantage, and accepting advantage, contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.

ACC prosecutors had alleged that the trio, while being public officials working for the PPRC in Kenema, in the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone, committed the offences in 2013.

After going through testimonies of the various prosecution witnesses, as well as examining exhibits tendered in court in respect of the case, Justice Sesay acquitted and discharged the third accused, Abraham John, for want of evidence.

However, he found first accused, Victor Hego Kamara, guilty on majority of the indictments, while second accused, Robert Paine, convicted on three counts, including accepting an advantage.

In his plea of mitigation on behalf of the first accused, Barrister Reginald Wright pleaded with the judge to take cognizance of the fact that the convict is a young man, with a family to care for.

He said his conviction already reduces his chances in life and pleaded against the imposition of a custodian sentence, and time to pay the fine.

On his part, lawyer for the second accused, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma also pleaded with the judge to temper justice with mercy and for the convict to be fined instead of given a custodian sentence.

Responding to both defense counsel, ACC prosecutor Abdul-Rahaman Mansaray noted that due to the gravity of the offences the convicts could either pay fines or serve three years a jail term each, or both, urging the trial judge to opt for the harder punishment in order to discourage others from engaging in corrupt activities.

In sentencing, Justice Sesay said that after having listened to both the prosecution and defense, he was minded that monies that were misappropriated came from donor funds, adding that such act had destroyed the good image of the country.

Notwithstanding, he fined the first convict Le30million, as well as ordered him to refund the PPRC Le30million within six months.

He also ordered that the second convict pay Le10million in fine and Le20million to PPRC within a six-monthperiod.

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