Ghana journalist Anas testifies in Sierra Leone Aljazeera timber corruption case

Alex Mansaray still on the run from Sierra Leonean authorities while Momoh Konte stands trial.
Alex Mansaray still on the run from Sierra Leonean authorities while Momoh Konte stands trial.

With a cap and strings of beads obscuring his image is how Ghana’s leading investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw appeared before the High Court of Sierra Leone to give testimony in the Anti Corruption Commission’s prosecution of former business man turned Vice Presidential aide Momoh Konte.

Anas gave evidence for the Prosecution explaining his role in the making of Sorious Samura’s Aljazeera documentary which was supposed to show that illegal logging was ongoing in Sierra Leone. The film and ensuing scandal known as  ‘Timbergate’ in the local press, showed the Vice President of Sierra Leone meeting with potential investors who at the time were seeking his blessing to conduct a logging business on which the government had passed a moratorium.

Momoh Konte is one of two indicted by Anti Corruption. In the film Konte was shown collecting cash of $2000 as an advance to aide the posing businessmen in seeing the Vice President. Else where in the film Konte and Alex Mansaray (who fled to the US after scandal broke) asked for thousands of dollars which they explained was to be paid to   the VP and the Minister of Forestry.

Testifying in court Anas said that while he did not have control of the final script of the film that was broadcast on Aljazeera back in November 2011, that footage was however intact. He said that he met with Konte a total of seven times including the day that he met the VP and paid the $2000. Anas whose face remains a mystery was permitted to partly cover his face to protect his identity will return to court again next week.

On 16th April 2012, the Commissioner of the ACC, Joseph Kamara indicted Konte and Mansaray in the High Court of Sierra Leone on four (4) counts of soliciting an advantage contrary to Secition 35, one (1) count of peddling influence contrary to Section 31 (3) and two (2) counts of Conspiracy to commit a corruption.

The Vice President was not charged by the ACC, as it was pronounced that there was no evidence the VP had any knowledge of the dealings between Konteh, Mansaray, and the posing businessmen.