See also:
» 19.03.2010 - Sierra Leone battles corruption
» 15.02.2010 - UN partners media to fight sexual violence in S/Leone
» 23.11.2009 - S/Leone’s plan to enlist youth into police scorned
» 26.10.2009 - Tribunal up-holds sentence for 3 former rebels
» 04.05.2009 - Taylor's acquittal plea thrown out
» 08.04.2009 - S/Leone rebels sentenced
» 04.02.2009 - Illicit drugs could reverse S Leone peace - UN
» 02.09.2008 - S. Leone enacts anti-graft law

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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone commits to slam down trafficking

afrol News, 7 August - Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma earlier this week announced urgent plans to impose stiff penalties on drug traffickers, following a recent major cocaine bust where drugs worth millions of US dollars were confiscated.

Mr Koroma told media that his cabinet had just approved a bill drafted with assistance of United Nations office on Drug Control to beef up legislative framework for its enactment.

The bill, which is expected to be passed without delay, will make it possible for drug offences convictions to carry a mandatory sentence. Once it becomes a law, Sierra Leone's weak approach towards narcotic traffickers will ensure that they go to jail without fail or option for a fine.

Discovery of 600kg of cocaine in a Venezuelan plane carrying a fake Red Cross emblem last month, after landing unlawfully in Lungi International Airport, reportedly caused a stir in country's administration.

Meanwhile, ensuing investigations into the matter are said to have gradually dispirited as well as disillusioned police investigators, as a result of what could be described as "political interference" by some politicians of APC party.

The investigation, reportedly took a dramatic twist when transport and aviation minister, Kemoh Sesay, was relieved of his state functions and about to be arrested by police.

To police's greatest dismay, they were told to keep back and allowed the suspended minister to take his time to respond to them.

A telephone message from State House reportedly received by the ex-minister on Monday, deciding his fate, is said to have almost shattered him.

According to a family source, Mr Sesay quietly sneaked out of his office to his house at Hill Station.

Police later mobilised to his residence to arrest him, but was told to keep back and wait for him the next day.

"We were shocked to receive news when it comes to exercising our duties in case of Kemoh Sesay," a police officer is said to have remarked, adding, "we were never stopped when we conducted the arrests of the other suspects."

The following day, the ex-minister reportedly walked majestically to investigating office at Murray Town, to make a statement.

Again, prior to making statement to investigators, instruction allegedly came from office of attorney general and minister of justice, Serry Kamal, ordering police not to obtain "caution statement" from him but "voluntary statement".

It is however argued that Mr Sesay is not a complainant in current matter being investigated by police but a suspect; therefore caution statement should have been applied.

It is further said that officers' frustration mounted when they were forced to grant bail to Mr Sesay without him completing his statement, a practice not common in investigation.

Mr Sesay reportedly walked again majestically to Murray Town yesterday, to conclude his voluntary statement.

It is now becoming clear that some members of political group in current government in Sierra Leone are using every means, civilised or not, to thwart and pervert justice in case of Mr Sesay.

Several questions about the sacred cow theory and the zero tolerance approach to corruption preached by president Koroma are now said to be receiving different interpretations from members of public, who had initially treated them with maximum seriousness.

In recent times, West Africa has become a major transit point for drugs from South America en route to Europe. But the recent seizure is believed to be the biggest in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leonean leader has thus warned, "on no account will the country be used either as a direct entry point or a final destination for the international trade in narcotics," saying he had sought technical support from Britain for investigation.

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