By Andrew Warshaw
April 29 – A crucial court hearing scheduled for today into corruption allegations against Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen (pictured left with FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura) has been unexpectedly postponed, with a new date set for Friday of this week.
Last October FIFA suspended Sierra Leone over government interference, the culmination of a row stemming from the decision of Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission to sack Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara during an ongoing probe into corruption and mismanagement.
Johansen was set aside by the country’s Commission pending the outcome of the case against her. Final submissions by both the prosecution and defence were due to have taken place today, along with a date for a final ruling to determine whether Johansen is guilty.
But the hearing was suddenly called off amid confusion over whether the traditional April 27 bank holiday to commemorate Sierra Leone’s Independence Day should have been switched from last Saturday to today because it fell this year on a weekend and whether, as a result, the courts could sit today or not.
Johansen and Kamara have long been embroiled in a bitter power struggle but deny any wrongdoing of misappropriating funds. Johansen claims she is the victim of trumped-up, politically driven charges designed to stop her carrying out an inquiry into match-fixing and corruption allegedly perpetrated by high-ranking opponents.
“I’m looking forward to the case coming to an end soon because this has been a very painful and destructive era in our football,” said Johansen who pointed out that of 14 original counts against her, eight were thrown out. “Every single cent was spent on football-related activity. There has been no evidence to show that a single cent has been for my personal benefit.”
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