Justice Mary Sey of the Freetown High Court yesterday granted 20million Leones bail to former Ombudsman Francis A Gabbidon who is facing 168 counts charges of misappropriations of public funds on diverse dates between year 2000 to 2006 when he was serving as Ombudsman.
The former Ombudsman pleaded not guilty in all the 168 count charges.
Making her applications before the court, Lawyer Glena Thompson representing the state, asked the court to rule on an application made by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Abdul Serry Kamal that the matter be tried by Judge alone and not by Judge and Jurors.
The application was granted by the court and no objection was made by the defense counsel of Francis Gabbidon.
Highlighting the bail conditions to be granted to the accused, Ms Thompson told the court that the accused person should give his correct residence to the court, and he should not have contact with the prosecution witnesses without the consent of the court.
She also emphasized that, the accused be warned not to contact either directly or indirectly, by himself or another person – the prosecution witnesses.
The Prosecuting Lawyer further asked the court that Mr. Gabbidon’s travel documents be surrendered to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) and that the bail should be approved by the consultant Master and Registrar.
Making their positions on the bail conditions for the accused, the defense counsel led by Jenkins Johnson Snr said that their client had no intention to contact prosecution witnesses but that the only problem they have is the condition of his travel documents being handed over to the ACC.
Lawyer Jenkins Johnson pointed out that, the matter is before the High Court and not with the ACC.
Lawyer Glena Thompson was quick to respond that there is an ongoing investigation by the ACC.
After carefully listening to both counsels, Justice Mary Sey granted the accused bail in the sum of Le 20 million; two sureties and that the travel documents of the accused be with the ACC.
The presiding Judge warned the accused not to try to contact prosecution witnesses; failing which it will be recognized as a violation of the court order. She also ordered that the present sureties (mother and sister of the accused) be considered.
Earlier on, court proceedings in the matter were divided into three sections since the charges of the accused were 168 counts.
Reading of the charges to the accused lasted for approximately four hours before he was granted bail.
The matter comes up again on Friday 18 August.
By Abibatu Kamara