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Sierra Leone: Deputy minister charged with rape

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September 17, 2013 06:25 AM EST | AP

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FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — A Sierra Leone deputy education minister fired last week after being accused of rape has been formally charged and denied bail.

Judge Tonia Barnette charged Mamoud Tarawalie with four counts of rape as well as assault and wounding with intent during a hearing in Freetown late Monday. Tarawalie, represented by 18 lawyers, was transferred to Freetown's central prison and will remain there until his next court appearance Thursday. The court did not take a plea as the preliminary investigation is still ongoing.

The complaint against Tarawalie was filed by a 24-year-old student at the University of Sierra Leone.

Rape is punishable in Sierra Leone by up to 15 years in prison. Despite a new Sexual Offenses Act that took effect in August 2012, the crime is underreported and rarely prosecuted.