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At Court Martial…

Discharged ‘mutineer’ returns as witness

March 2, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

Corporal Gibao Koroma, who was discharged by Judge Advocate Otto During for want of sufficient evidence in the ongoing court martial trial of alleged mutinous soldiers, was in court again last Friday but as a witness to corroborate alibis raised by the 10th and 11th accused persons.

Corporal Koroma was one of 14 soldiers charged with eight counts of mutiny and conspiracy to mutiny last year but was discharged after Judge Advocate During upheld a defence application of ‘no case’ to answer.

Back in court as the 14th defence witness on Friday, the army corporal revealed that he served as one of the arms and ammunition storekeepers and that he recognised 10th accused Private Mustapha Quee and 11th accused Private Kellie Koroma, as he was their immediate supervisor.

He told the court that he was on leave from 1 to 28 August, 2013 but stayed within Teko Barracks and visited the arms store and monitored the work of his subordinates.

He said it was normal in the military for a soldier to be on leave and at the same time performing official duty, adding that during his monitoring visits the two accused persons were carrying out their job effectively and efficiently with no report about lost arms and ammunition or breakage into the arms store.

He said both accused persons followed due procedures in issuing and collecting arms and ammunition to night and essential guards between 6 and 10 August, 2013.

Testifying earlier in court, 11th accused Private Kellie Kamara, who is also the 13th defence witness, said he resided within Teko Barracks in Makeni and served as a trainee arms storekeeper, noting that save for the 2nd and 5th accused, he knew all the other accused persons prior to their arrest and indictment.

Between 6 and 10 August, 2013, he said he was at Teko Barracks in Makeni, and as arms storekeeper he issued arms and ammunition to night duty guards and essential duty guards.

He said before issuing any arms or ammunition to a guard, he would notify the company Sergeant Major and sign for the arms store key.

“I will then go to the arms store and issue the arms and ammunition to guards in the presence of the Orderly Sergeant and the Corporal,” Private Kamara said. “After the guards would have off duty, I check the arms to know whether they are in correct order and place them in the store. I will then take the arms store key and the ammunition to the Sergeant Major and both of us will sign.”

He said between 6 and 10 August, 2013, there was no reported case of lost arms and ammunition or breakage into the arms store, thus denying all charges of mutiny levied against him by the state.

While being cross-examined, he told the court he could not recall as to whether he was on duty between 9and 10 August, 2013, but he recalled issuing arms and ammunition to one Corporal Conteh on 9th August, 2013, although he could not tell where the latter was deployed because he was not in charge of deploying essential duty guards.

When the prosecutor put it to him that he was not on duty on 9th and 10th August, 2013, yet appended his signature to the column that was to have been signed by another personnel in the Handing Over and Taking Over book, he said it was a mistake, and was subsequently reported to Corporal Gibao, their immediate supervisor.

Corporal Gibao corroborated his claim that the ‘mistake’ was reported to him, for which 11th accused Kellie Koroma was punished – to undergo two days of extra duty.