Saturday October 22, 2005
The revelations of former Special Court for Sierra Leone Chief Investigator, Peter Halloran, will do a lot of harm to Sierra Leone’s international image, if he exposes tapes he says he has in his possession.
According to a news report from Australia’s HERALD SUN yesterday, Halloran has alleged that top officials of government and the Sierra Leone Judiciary demanded bribes from him to quash the recent case in which he was found guilty of having sexual contact with a Freetown minor , but successfully won an appeal against his conviction at the Sierra Leone Supreme Court.
Mr.Halloran, according to the HERALD SUN , made these disturbing revelations : “I secretly recorded the approaches that were made to me for money. Those tape recordings reveal corruption at the highest levels of the Sierra Leone Government and judiciary.”
Saying that he was determined to prove his innocence and the next stage would have been to present his case to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah if he had lost the Supreme Court appeal , Halloran went on :”I gathered substantial evidence, including secret tapes and sworn affidavits, that I believe would have convinced President Kabbah I was the victim of a corrupt judicial system. “
If what the Australian policeman is saying is the truth, Sierra Leone’s international image is about to take a merciless beating . Only last week, the international organization, Transparency International , in a report, considered Sierra Leone one of the most corrupt countries in the world, worse even than Nigeria, a nation usually perceived by Africans to the No.1 .corrupt country in Africa. Sierra Leoneans talking to COCORIOKO after the report condemned it for allegedly exaggerating their country’s level of corruption.
Also, Sierra Leone is presently facing problems of credibility with international donors and stakeholders who have many times warned the Kabbah government to clamp down on corruption if Sierra Leone must continue to get international aid.
The Sierra Leone government has often denied the allegations of corruption, but if the Australian Superintendent of Police comes forward with his secret tapes and it turns out he is speaking the truth, the country’s image will suffer.
Firstly, this was a high-profile case that from the onset .The country’s reputation was on a thread. Halloran protested vehemently that he did not have any sexual contact whatsoever with the girl. Then started the case and the girl involved and relatives made contradictory statements to the Police, it was learned in court. Soon, newspapers in Halloran’s country took up the matter and started sowing doubt into the case and even accusing Sierra Leone’s justice system of misconduct in the handling of the case.
It was learnt that even the Special Court conducted its own internal investigation and found doubts in the story. Still, the authorities in Sierra Leone pursued the case, as if to prove to the world that the innuendoes from the Australian press were misguided. Halloran was found guilty and he was to have gone to jail for 18 months , but he appealed and won. Credit , really should have been given to Sierra Leone, but then the issues involved in the case had aroused international attention. The world would therefore be interested to hear the details on the secret tapes Halloran is claiming to have in his possession.
Secondly, Sierra Leone is at the crossroads where stakeholders are pondering whether to continue helping the country financially or neglect it in the face of all the allegations about corruption. It certainly will not be the best time for the Halloran tapes to surface.
RELEASE THE TAPES, HALLORAN
Monday October 24, 2005