The trio are Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, Balla Kandeh, programme manager of the Malaria Control Programme, and Omar Malle Ceesay, executive director of HePDO.
The accused persons were charged with 5 counts of theft, 8 counts of forgery, 2 counts of economic crime, 1 count of disobedience of statutory duty, 1 count of official corruption, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit a felony.
It would be recalled that on 24th October 2023 when the accused were freshly arraigned, they took their plea on the counts that were read before them but the Defence Counsel, L.S. Camara, raised an issue that some counts on the bill of indictment were the same as other counts.
Counsel E.R. Donga, for the state, acknowledged what defence counsel L.S. Camara raised, saying that some counts were repeated. She (Counsel E.R. Donga) then applied for the court to adjourn the matter with the view to amending the information.
The amended indictment was filed on 25 October on the issues of correcting the repetition of particulars of offences.
Counsel Donga provided the court with amended information and requested that the court start taking the plea from count 16 onwards.
She said the request was due to a change in the figures compared to the various bill of indictment. The court then decided to continue with the plea taking from the amended bill of indictment, which they have already pleaded not guilty on count 1 to 15, and the amended bill taking effect from count 16 onwards.
During the proceedings, counts 16, 17 and 18 were read to the accused in English, and all three defendants pleaded not guilty. The court duly recorded their not-guilty pleas.
Following the plea-taking, Counsel Donga requested an adjournment to call their first witness to testify.
The case was adjourned till 7 November 2023 for trial.