Palo Conteh walks freely on treason charges

July 2, 2020

By Ibrahim Kabba Turay


After two months of intense trial at the High Court, Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh has on July 1st, 2020, been acquitted discharged on three treason offences, but convicted on unlawful possession of small arms and sentenced to 24 Months imprisonment.

Conteh was brought to court on a-136 application to the High Court on 29th May, 2020.

He was charged with three counts of treason, seven counts of unlawful possession of Small Arms and Ammunition and three counts of perjury.

The matter was presided over by Justice Momoh Jah Stevens and twelve empanelled Jury.

Palo Conteh was acquitted and discharged on counts one, two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, and was convicted on count ten and eleven, while the second and third accused persons- Retired Colonel Saa Anthony Sinnah and Prince George Jusu- were acquitted and discharged 

During the trial, the prosecution brought in thirteen witnesses in their defense against the three accused person and evidence to support their case.

Addressing the jury earlier, Justice Momoh Jah Stevens said he was addressing them based on law and that it was upon that they will bring out their fact, because they are the justices of fact.

He said it was the burden of the prosecution to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt and prove the guilt of the accused persons.

He explained that “a treason is a crime one commit to betray the country and overthrow a democratic government -to kill or assassinate a president -and that a person that commit treason shall be liable to death.” 

He mentioned that some of the element that one must commit a treasonable offence include the offence must be committed in Sierra Leone, and that they must be prepared or endeavoured to do the act of treason.

Justice Steven said counts one to three of treason, and on point of law, the first accused went to have a meeting with the president without a book or pen, but went with a Glock 17 loaded pistol, and that he passed the security personnel without being scanned.

He said he took the brown bag with pistol to State House building where the president was and that based on his  failure to comply with the scanner and the metal detector, the jury needed  to ask themselves  what was the intension of the first accused- to kill the president or not.

He also made mention of a famous treason matter in 1973 involving KaiKai and others in which they were convicted of treason because they wanted to kill the then President Joseph Saidu Momoh.

Justice Steven said a public place is an indoor or outdoor area that the public go every day, thus citing school, market place or office.

He said State House is a public place because people go there every day to work.

On counts seven (7) and Nine (9) he advised the jury not to consider them on their verdict because it is bad in law, but  urged them to pay attention to ten (10) because the first accused had already made a confessional statement that he went with the pistol to State House.

He called on the jury to retire and come out with their verdict of guilty or not guilty against the accused person, without fear or favour, and that they must look at the fact and decide collectively.

Retired Alfred Paolo Conteh, Retired Colonel Saa Anthony Sinnah and Prince George Jusu, were charged to court with 16 count charges ranging from treason, possession of unlicensed firearms, perjury, to importation of small arms without valid license.

The accused persons denied all the charges put to them.

The state was represented by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr. Pricilla Schwartz, Director of Public Prosecution, Easmon Ngakui, Adrian Fisher and J.A.K Sesay, while the defense team includes Dr. Abdulai O.Conteh, Joseph F. Kamara, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and Ade Macauley.