Defence to enter no case submission at Court Martial
SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 By Alusine Sesay & Josephine Seppeh
The prosecution in the ongoing Court Martial trial of 14 alleged mutineers yesterday closed its case with the defence expected to enter a plea of no case submission on 15 September when the court is expected to resume hearing.
While closing his case, Principal State Prosecutor Gerald Soyei noted that having looked at the Court Martial Procedure Rules 2003 in its entirety, there is nothing found on the closure of prosecution’s case and that he adopted the procedure used in the ordinary court to close his case.
“I am adopting the practice in the ordinary court to close my case in the absence of an expressed court martial rule to close case,” he said.
The defence, however, accepted the mode of closure adopted by the prosecution and asked for an adjournment until 15 September.
Prior to the closure of the prosecution’s case, opposing counsels vehemently argued that an application by the prosecutor urging the Judge Advocate to grant excuse to some of witnesses who were due to testify at the trial, but didn’t, should be denied.
Soyei submitted that the 8th, 13th and 14th witnesses were within the jurisdiction at the time of the trial but could not testify because their co-investigators had testified and tendered relevant statements of the accused persons, adding that such would amount to ‘surplusage’.
However, lead defence counsel Julius N. Cuffie noted that the move was absolutely unfounded in law as the prosecution could not justify any legal basis for it.
“He has not guided the court as to what rubric he uses to justify his argument. What he is doing amounts to giving evidence at the Bar, which is absolutely wrong,” he argued. “It also amounts to prejudicing the case of the accused persons.”
In his reply, Mr. Soyei argued that it is an established practice that all witnesses listed at the back of the charge sheet should be called, in so far as practicable in the interest of justice.
“I suggest that the calling of witness or witnesses be surplusage, therefore some witnesses may not be called and if not called, the defence can insist for them to be called for cross-examination in the interest of justice,” he said.
Meanwhile, while accepting the closure of the prosecution’s case, Mr. Cuffie further submitted that Judge Advocate Otto During should discountenance the argument of the prosecution in respect of prosecution witnesses that were not called to testify.