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At Court Martial!

Judge Advocate rules on Monday

DECEMBER 4, 2014 By Alusine Sesay

Some of the accused along the corridor of the Court

Some of the accused along the corridor of the Court

Judge Advocate in the ongoing court martial trial of 14 alleged army mutineers will Monday rule as to whether the accused persons have any case to answer before the court.

The court martial started on 6 April this year and is presided over Judge Advocate Otto During, and assisted by a Court Martial Board comprising the President and five experienced military officers.

The trial started with a pre-hearing that involved the introduction of the Judge Advocate and President of the Court Martial Board.

During pre-trial hearing, the defence raised an objection to question the legibility and qualification of the Judge Advocate to preside over the matter, which motion was overruled by the judge himself.

Also, the defence further questioned the suitability of the proposed President of the Court Martial Board, Colonel Osman Turay, as they raised an objection about his impartiality on the grounds that he had had some scores to settle with 14th accused, Captain Prince Sesay.

The defence’s objection was upheld by the Judge Advocate and Colonel Turay was replaced by Lt. Col. B. Jusu.

The accused were charged with eight counts of mutiny and failure to suppress mutiny among others, but they pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The prosecution, led by Principal State Prosecutor Gerald Soyei, paraded 11 witnesses who testified in the matter, among whom were two factual witnesses.

While the prosecution closed their case, the defence presented a ‘no case’ submission, arguing that all accused persons should be acquitted and discharged because the prosecution had failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove the accused persons culpable of the crime alleged.

However, in his reply, Soyei argued that by reason of the prosecution’s evidence, analysis and submissions in the charge sheet, sufficient evidence has been adduced implicating all 14 accused persons in each of the counts, and that the defence’s ‘no case’ submission failed woefully on all counts, hence urging the trial of the accused persons to continue.

He added that none of the accused persons should be acquitted and discharged.

Meanwhile, Judge Advocate During adjourned the matter to Monday for ruling.

The public, including relatives of the accused soldiers, now wait with bated breath for Monday’s ruling. The judge’s decision will exclude the Court Martial Board, who will only be informed in court about the decision taken by the judge.