Somali Court Jails Health Director, 3 Others For Stealing Covid-19 Money

A Somali court on Monday sentenced a director of health and there other three government officials for stealing public funds meant for Covid-19 emergency response.

The Banadir Court found the four guilty following a case that drew public scrutiny in the rise of the funds.

The rose just after Somalia reported its first case of Covid-19 in Apris. At the time the Ministry of Health revealed that some officials were under investigation for diverting public money.

The court did not, however, show how much each of the officials took but the Ministry of Health said that between $42,000 and $45,000 had been embezzled.

A cording to a verdict read by the chief judge the court found the officials guilty of committing corrupt acts and sentenced then to different terms and imposed varying fines.

“The court sentenced Abdullahi Hashi Ali, 61, the director-general of the Ministry of Health, to nine years of prison [and ordered him to pay] a fine amounting to Somali Sh 59,170,000 (about $2,366),” the judge announced.

The judge also ruled that Mohamoud Bulle Mohamoud, 52, the ministry’s director of administration, had been given jail terms of 18 years and also ordered him to pay a fine of $2,366.

Another convict Mahdi Abshir Mohamed, 30, the head of project dubbed Wacyigelinta Caafimaadka  (health awareness), was sentenced to 12 years in jail and will pay the same amount of fine.

While 34-year-old Bashir Abdi Nur who is in charge of the ministry’s malaria and HIV/AIDs department was sentenced to three years in prison and would pay a fine of $1,183.

The judge said the four convicts were not entitled to bail but had a right to appeal the sentences within 30 days.

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The sentencing of the ministry top officials could sound a rare warning in a country largely known as one of the most corrupt in the continent.

By Monday Somalia had reported 3,265 coronavirus and 63 fatalities related to the pandemic.

Somalia allocated about $5 million to an emergency fund for Covid-19 but has appealed for more funds from donors.

The Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Fwzia Abika Nur, said the ministry will conduct a thorough audit of the funds.

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