Two Imams – Alpha Swaray and Abdul Lamin Kamara – were yesterday remanded at the maximum security prison on Pademba Road in Freetown for allegedly violating public emergency regulations.
The regulations were pronounced by President Ernest Bai Koroma in July and subsequently ratified by Parliament to ensure public compliance with measures put in place to stem the uncontrolled spread of the Ebola virus in the country.
Both accused pleaded guilty to one count of being found at a public meeting, contrary to Regulation 15(1) of the Emergency Regulation of 2014 after they were arraigned at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.2 presided over my Magistrate Komba Kamanda.
According to the prosecution, the accused persons on Friday, 19 September, at the Edward Lane Mosque, were found holding a public meeting that is unrelated to Ebola sensitization, in violation of Public Emergency Regulations of 2014.
Defence counsels J.M. Fornah-Sesay and H. Sherry applied for bail on behalf of the accused persons, stating that they have not wasted the time of the court and that the magistrate should temper justice with mercy.
Counsel Fornah-Sesay stated that the accused persons are the caretakers of the mosque and that the mosque was not open to public.
However, police prosecutor Sergeant 5984 Fofanah I.G. objected to bail and rejected claims that the accused persons reside within in the mosque compound, as they were arrested when entering into the mosque.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Kamanda stated that they duo should have abide by the law by closing the mosque. He maintained that people are treating the public emergency regulations with levity.
“The three-day sit at home was [initiated] to reduce the death of many Sierra Leonean,” he said, adding that in the fight against Ebola in the country people should abide by preventive measures to stem the spreading of the virus.
He refused the accused bail and adjourned the hearing to 29 September for sentence.