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At Court Martial:

Judge Advocate may order arrest of soldiers for contempt

March 17, 2015 By Patrick J. Kamara

Judge Advocate Otto During, who is presiding at the court martial trial of 13 alleged mutinous soldiers, yesterday threatened that he would order the arrest of certain soldiers – whose names were not identified – for contempt of court.

Speaking in a bitter tone at the military headquarters, Cockerill in the west of Freetown, where the trial is being held, Judge Advocate During complained that the soldiers had commandeered his official vehicle which was being serviced at a garage in Juba, which has a small army barracks, and were now using it, adding that such act constitutes contempt of court.

He told the court that the vehicle was officially assigned to him by the Army Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Brigadier Samuel O. Williams, immediately he was appointment to preside at the court martial to facilitate his movement throughout the trial.

“To take the Judge Advocate’s official vehicle without my consent is a serious offence. It is contempt out of the face of the court. Court martial has the High Court jurisdiction and if that vehicle is not returned by Wednesday, I will order the arrest of whosoever that is using that vehicle. This is a grave contempt out of the face of the court,” he insisted.

He said for the past months he had had to share the vehicle of Lieutenant Colonel Nickleson and that such had impeded his movement to the Law Officers Department to look for citation in the evidences that are before the court.

Meanwhile, 6th accused Tamba Sheku, who started testifying on the last adjourned date, yesterday continued his testimony. He said he had never been charged to court for insubordination and that he was at home for the entire period when the last command group conference was held in Teko Barracks, Makeni.

He said during those periods he did not have any dealings with the accused persons to plan a rebellion for his superiors.

“Apart from being a soldier, I am also a musician and had produced music, but I have never written or produced any song portraying the bad image of the government or my superiors. I have no bad feelings for my colleagues and even the government as far as my job is concerned,” he told the court.

While being cross-examined by state counsel Major Vincent Sowa, the accused admitted that he did participate in games and sports but never went along with his wife, whom he had earlier said would always be in his company whenever he is not on official duty.

Sowa applied for Exhibit JJ I-2 (a document of a written revolutionary song that was alleged to have been discovered at the accused person’s residence) to be shown to him, but defence counsel IP Mammy objected on the grounds that the accused person had told the court in his evidence-in-chief that only the photocopy of the said document was shown to him during interrogation.

His objection was upheld by the judge advocate.

The prosecution also applied for Exhibit GG 1-54, page 19 ( the statement of the accused to the police) to be read to him, but the defence again objected on the notion that the question asked should not be pegged to that particular portion of the statement.

His objection was again upheld by the judge advocate.

Sowa asked the accused whether any document was discovered after a search was conducted at his residence. And the defence for the third time objected on the grounds that nothing was before the court that was discovered at the accused person’s residence.

The lawyer also referred the accused person to the statement he made to the police in which he talked about revolutionary songs, but the accused denied having any bad feelings for the government and that he never mentioned the name of the government or his bosses.

Defence witness 22, Adamsay Lakkoh, who is the wife of the 6th accused, told the court that she was at home on 16 August, 2013 when someone invited her husband. She said she later learned that he had been locked up in the guardroom at the barracks.

She corroborated the alibi raised by her husband that she usually worked in the military canteen for three days in a week.

All 13 soldiers have denied mutiny charges by the state, and have been in prison since their arrest in August, 2013.