Led in evidence by ACC prosecutor, Sorious Samara has last Friday June 22nd 2012, told a Freetown court that he met with President Koroma and briefed him on his intentions prior to commencing the investigation into corruption inside the country. Samura said he received the blessings of the President but he however clarified that he did not tell the President whom or what he was going to be investigating.
He informed that he knew the accused person, Momoh Konte, as he is one of the characters featured in his documentary on corruption in timber business in Sierra Leone. He said himself, one of his directors at the Aljazeera News Network, Mike Healey and two other journalists, Bilal... and Anas Aremiyaw Anas, among other African journalists, in 2011, set up an investigation series called “African Investigate”. He said it was to give African journalists the chance to tell their countries’ stories.
After setting up African Investigate, he told the court, the first proposal they received was a letter written by a Sierra Leonean from Sierra Leone, calling on them to investigate corruption in the timber industry in Sierra Leone. He said he first flew to Sierra Leone to have discussion with stakeholders including President Ernest Koroma.
After his meeting with President Koroma, Sorious went on; he then flew back to London and held discussions with his team of foreign journalists. Afterwards, he flew again to Sierra Leone with two foreign journalists, Bilal and Anas to start the investigation in early October 2011. At the time, he said, they filmed for two weeks and returned to London. He said they came in again on October 30th and did the second filming, which he said lasted for another three days.
Sorious further told the court that, since he was well known by top politicians in the country, he took the back seat whilst Anas and Bilal conducted the investigation proper. However, he said he was closely with them in disguise as he monitored the process unfold. He said he directed his colleagues to the accused, whom he said his sources had earlier on told him will lead them to the Vice President. He said he gave the accused’s telephone contact to Bilal and Anas so that they will contact him.
Sorious said they succeeded to set up the accused and recorded everything concerning the set up of Momoh Konte down to getting Konte to sign papers to form a new company. Following which they left for London where they edited the material. He said the film was edited by himself and another editor, whilst the whole process was overseen by the producer. Sorious defined a montage as “a preview to a film”.
Responding to questions as to whether his team came in contact with any other person beside Momoh, he said his team also met with one Alex Mansaray and Vice President Sam Sumana.
Defence Lawyer for Momoh Konte, Lawyer Ajibola Manley Spaine requested an adjournment as the statement of Sorious was only submitted to him that same day.
Honourable Justice Charm adjourned the matter to today Monday 25th June.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.