The Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Desmond Babatunde Edwards, has said the newly established Anti-Corruption Commission division of the High Court is worth Le338,976,000 (three hundred and thirty-eight million, nine hundred and seventy-six thousand Leones). He made this statement while he was commissioning the courts at the Siaka Stevens Street Court building in Freetown on Monday 9 December 2019. The division comprises two separate courtrooms, two judges chambers and an independent anti-corruption registry with eight newly appointed staff. The breakdown of the funds involved were as follows: -Cost for partitioning the court from one big courtroom to two, judges chambers and registry: Le156,496,000 (one hundred and fifty-six million four hundred and ninety-six thousand).
-Tiling: Le92,714,000 (ninety-two million seven hundred and fourteen thousand Leones).
-New judges’ platforms, witness stands and docks for accused persons: Le17,766,000 (seventeenth million, seven hundred and sixty-six thousand Leones).
-Forty long benches for the two courts: Le72,000,000 (seventy-two million Leones).
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The Chief Justice said corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in any society. He explained that DFID motivated by it program on strengthening public financial management, Anti-Corruption and accountability institutions in Sierra Leone was ready to provide technical assistance and equipment for running an Anti-Corruption court. He said the judiciary too, motivated by its desire to set up proper court system for its practice and its citizenry decided to use its judicial allocation of funds for the funding of the two Anti-Corruption courts and an independent registry. The public relations officer of the ACC, Margaret Murray, on Tuesday described the court as a fast track court for corruption cases. Murray stated that the Commission welcomed the courts wholeheartedly because it will make their work easier. She pointed out that because judges had other cases to sit on before this time, their cases were being stalled in court adding that they have cases that have lasted for four or six years in court. Murray also pointed out that most of their settlement agreements were based on the fact that they had cases in court that had not been looked at for quite a number of years. This was why they took the settlement approach which had to do with recovering stolen funds from the people of Sierra Leone rather than having to indict and press charges … and lack proper information to give out to the public. The PRO said having a special division for the ACC cases will help fast track their cases and judgements in court and it will be easier for them as PROs to come to the public and give updates.
By Edna Browne-Dauphine
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