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‘I was very proud to serve my country’

- accused tells Court Martial

March 30, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

The 14th accused person in the ongoing trial of alleged army mutineers yesterday told the court martial that he was very much proud to serve his country since he was enlisted in the Army at a crucial moment in 1999, when the 11-year-old armed conflict was at its peak.

14 military officers were charged to court for multiple counts of mutiny, although 9th accused Corporal Gibao Kamara was acquitted and discharged after the Judge Advocate ruled he had “no case to answer”. Yet Captain Prince Sesay is still being referred to as the 14th accused even though 13 soldiers are currently being tried.

Led in evidence by Robert Kowa Esq., Captain Sesay told the court that he was part of Squad 99 by virtue of the year he was recruited in the Army, but noted that he ceased being an active member since he attained the rank of a senior officer.

He said the Squad 99 meeting that was slated for 3 August, 2013 was approved by Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel A.S. Bockarie, second-in-command Major M.B.S. Kamara, the Battalion Adjutant, Investigating Officer, Lieutenant J.R. Robin, the Operations Officer, who is the accused himself, the Quartermaster and the Chief Clerk, all of whom signed a document tendered as Exhibit No. U1.

He said Exhibit U1 is a letter that was written by one Corporal Hamilton, seeking permission from the battalion commander for members of Squad 99 to meet and discuss welfare issues as well as arrange for their 15th anniversary.

He said the second-in-command minuted the request to the Battalion Adjutant for his approval, who in turn minuted it to the Investigating Officer to cover and monitor it, adding that the meeting was meant only for Order Ranks ranging from Private to Warrant Officers.

The 14th accused noted that the meeting could not hold because he was informed by Corporal Hamilton that the battalion Regimental Sergeant Major had placed all the officers on military labour.

Another issue raised during police investigation was a telephone communication between the accused and the 4th accused, Corporal Musa Massaquoi, which prosecutors alleged the former used a phone number that was not registered in his name but one Alhaji Kamara of 11 Masim Street.

Captain Sesay told the court that he was using the number even prior to being transferred from Lungi Garrison to the 4th Battalion at Teko Barracks, Makeni, in March 2013, and that the investigators did not show him any document to ascertain whether in fact the phone number 088-50-44-46 was not registered in his name.

He said the number was his official phone number registered in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) telephone directory, and that he used it to call the 4thaccused, who was assigned to purchase building materials for the construction of a class building meant for the Girl Child Education Challenge, a project he was directly in charge to implement.

“I used the number to communicate with the 4th accused in respect of the Girl Child Education project for update on the work as well as organising the work force,” he said.

The defence counsel invited the Judge to take judicial notice of the accused testimony because the said telephone directory is an official document of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

The accused noted that he only knew four of his co-accused, 6th accused Private Tamba Sheku, 4th accused Corporal Musa Massaquoi, 1st accused Private Momoh Kargbo, and 13th accused Rogers, before they were charged with mutiny, adding that the rest of the accused persons he came to know while at the Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre.

He denied ever communicating with any of the accused persons in respect of the charges against him, as he was never aware or informed about a meeting geared towards staging a mutiny and to overthrow the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The accused were charged to court for conspiracy to mutiny, mutiny and failure to suppress mutiny, among others. They deny all the charges.