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Moinina Fofanah admits violating early release conditions, apologises

March 21, 2016 By Regina Pratt

Former Director of War for the Civil Defence Force (Kamajor), Moinina Fofanah, last Friday admitted that he had violated some terms of his early release by the Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone.

Appearing before Justice Vivian M. Solomon for the second time since he was arrested and charged with violating terms of his early release from the Mpanga prison in Rwanda, the former CDF warlord also apologised and begged for forgiveness.

Fofana was arrested by the Special Court for Sierra Leone and indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2003. He was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 15 years, which was to run from the day he was arrested. Having served a significant portion of those years, he was conditionally released in March last year to serve his remaining prison term in his home town of Bo.

But the former CDF Director of War was advised prior to his release not to drink alcohol, participate in local politics or harass witnesses.

However, according to the prosecutor of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, Brenda Hollis, Mr. Fofana had violated the terms of his conditional early release by involving in local politics and failure to be in close contact with his monitoring authorities.

During his first appearance at the administrative hearing of the Residual Court of the Special Court, held at the Fast Track Court in Freetown, Mr. Fofana vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

“I have not breached any of the conditions given to me. And I am still doing what I have been earlier told to do,” he said during his first appearance.

But the convicted warlord, on his second appearance before Justice Solomon, changed his initial plea of not guilty and admitted to the allegations.

Fofanah admitted attending the ruling All Peoples Congress Youth League conference in the northern town of Makeni last October, and that he went there without obtaining permission from the monitoring authorities.

However, he claimed his visit to Makeni was to visit his brother, whom he did not name, and that he coincidentally met a large crowd of APC Youth League members meeting in Makeni, adding that he did not understood the nature of politics because he was not a party card holder.

He also admitted falsifying his whereabouts by signing the required form on 9 October, 2015 instead of the date he was to sign it.

He told the court that he had indeed signed an agreement with the monitoring authorities to always inform them about his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor Brenda J. Hollis responded that there was more to the allegations because the war crimes convict was only given permission to travel between Freetown and Bo, adding that the accused should give further account as to why he went to Makeni because it did not take education or the lack of it to justify an omission. Hollis informed the court that the accused had confirmed with the registrar of the Residual Court that he understood all the conditions for his early release.

Yet, she said, Mr. Fofana had declared for a political party in Makeni and made further comments.

Meanwhile, Justice Solomon said she would allow the accused to return to Bo as the matter did not limit restriction of the prisoner, adding that bail on release was pending until the final determination of the matter and that he must comply fully and re-affirm that he understood the terms of his conditional early release agreement signed on February 20, 2015.

β€œHe must observe the standards and special conditions issued by the President of this court on February 2015,” said the judge, adding that the first order was that the accused should obtain a written permission from the registrar before leaving Bo.

She said the war crimes convict should also desist from directly or indirectly attempting to influence anyone who had been providing information on the hearing by bribe, intimidation, threat, harm or otherwise interfere with such individuals.

Justice Solomon said the accused should be reporting to the monitoring authority on Mondays and refrain from discussing issues on the matter with the media or any other third party not associated with his defence team or the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, while the matter was still to be decided.

He also admonished him to desist from the practice of signing his monitoring compliance sheet before the reporting date.

The Judge urged the registrar to set a date for the hearing of the case, adding that if parties want to file any further written submission they should do so within 14 days of the next hearing.