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At Court Martial…

Prosecution presents 25-page closing address

May 28, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

After weeks of adjournment, the prosecution in the ongoing court martial trial of 13 alleged mutinous soldiers yesterday presented a 25-page closing address and applied that the court  adopt it as read.

The defence is, however, expected to present their address on 19 June this year.

Prior to the presentation of the address, the prosecution, led by State Counsel Vincent Sowa, applied for an amendment to count one (conspiracy to commit mutiny), citing section 72 of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) Act 1961, as amended.

He noted that the application derived its basis from the First Schedule of the RSLAF Act, as conspiracy is not listed as a military offence, thus applied that the particulars of offence in respect of count one remain the same.

However, defence counsel Thomas T. Beah contended the application, citing Rule 83(2) of the Court Martial Procedure Rules of 2003, noting that the prosecution’s application for an amendment was a deliberate ploy to waste the time of the court after it had adjourned for four weeks.

He argued that it would be unfair on the part of the accused persons after both the prosecution and defence had closed their case, only for the prosecution to seek an amendment to count one, which according to him would lead to adducing fresh evidence.

“I crave the indulgence of the court to discountenance the application of the prosecution. The prosecution should address the court now and create room for us the defence to do ours in the interest of justice,” he submitted. “I humbly rely on the inherent jurisdiction of the Judge.”

However, Judge Advocate Otto During ruled in favour of the prosecution, noting that the amendment of count one would not be unfair on the part of the accused persons.

The 13 military officers were charged with conspiracy to mutiny, mutiny and failure to suppress mutiny among a host of other charges. They had all pleaded not guilty.