26.1 C
Sierra Leone
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

As prosecution witness testifies…

Full trial hearing begins at court martial

By Alusine Sesay

The full trial of 14 alleged mutinous soldiers commenced yesterday after several enforced adjournments, with the testimony of first prosecution witness, RSLAF 18164467 Warrant Officer Class II (WO2), Abu Bakarr Dumbuya, attached to the 4th Battalion at Teko Barracks in Makeni.

Speaking through an interpreter (Captain S.E. Bogra), WO II Abu Bakarr Dumbuya told the court he knew all the accused persons, save the second accused. He recalled that on 10 August, 2013, a group of military police personnel and persons in civilian attire went to the battalion Ordering Room with a document bearing the names of three military personnel: Privates Jalloh, Fabai and Tholley, whom they declared wanted.

He said he was ordered by one Major Kallon to go in search of the three personnel. “I did as ordered and went to the quarters and first saw Private Jalloh and handed him over to Major Kallon. I again returned to the quarters in search of the remaining two and fortunately saw Private Fabai whom I handed over to one Corporal Abu at about 6pm and instructed him (Abu) to surrender Fabai to Major Kallon, while I went in search of Tholley. I found out that Private Tholley was not within the barracks but was on an annual leave, possibly in his village.”

He said that the two accused were not with Major Kallon when he subsequently returned to update the latter.

“I then went in search of Corporal Abu, saw him and asked him the whereabouts of Private Fabai,” he narrated, adding that the Corporal told him that Fabai had run away, and that the Corporal was detained until the following morning.

“He (Corporal Abu) slept in the guard room onto the following morning when I informed the military police in charge, who supported me that the Corporal should be locked up for his negligence.”

He further testified that they conducted a search for Fabai and that he was later informed by one Lieutenant Robin, an Intelligence Officer at the battalion that Fabai had been arrested and detained.

While being cross-examined by defence counsel Thomas Beah, the witness was asked as to whether he could recall he made a statement at the Regional Crime Office at Mena Police Station in Makeni on 29 August, 2013, to which he replied in the affirmative, albeit he could not recall the exact date.

The cross-examination had to be cut short though after the defence made an application to the Judge Advocate for the witness to be shown his statement at the Mena Police Station, which was vehemently objected by the prosecution on the grounds that they (defence) had failed to lay a better foundation for such application.

Meanwhile, prior to the witness testifying in court, the defence counsel applied for the matter to be discharged on the grounds that the accused were arbitrarily being detained, beyond the period prescribed by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, as they were not brought to court within a reasonable period of time.

But the prosecution, led by Principal State Prosecutor Gerald Soyei, again opposed the application on the grounds that there was reference for trial within a reasonable period of time.

The 14 accused persons and 4 who were few weeks ago released for want of evidence were detained without trial for more than nine months following their arrest last year, with defence officials saying lack of money was preventing the start of the court martial.

However, Judge Advocate Otto During overruled the defence application, noting that they should have obtained a writ of habeas corpus before the trial commenced, adding “I don’t think the court has the jurisdiction or locus standi to discharge the accused persons. Therefore, I will not allow the defence application.”

The trial was adjourned to Friday, 9 May, 2014.

Previous articleSalone cyclists leave for Benin tour
Next articleUS$7m cash transfer for poorest communities By Ibrahim Tarawallie Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah, yesterday disclosed that an agreement with the World Bank will make available direct cash transfers to poorest communities in four districts, totaling US$7million. Briefing newsmen on the outcome of the recently concluded spring meetings in Washington D.C. with the management and staff of the Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the African Development Bank, Dr. Marah said that the Social Safety Nets grants will be managed by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) in Bombali and Kono districts, among others, adding, “About 10,000 people will benefit from this agreement.” He maintained that during meetings with the World Bank, they confirmed the appropriateness of six (6) areas, including capacity building for the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, public transportation (Ferries and water buses), and technical support to the National Commission for Privatization (NCP), and the Bank’s assured support through ongoing and planned operations. According to the Finance Minister, the Bank agreed to provide the necessary funding for the provision of new ferries to ensure that the problem of transportation across Lungi become a thing of the past. Dr. Marah explained that during a meeting with the IMF, the issue of sovereign credit rating was thoroughly discussed and that the country is engaging international rating agencies to conduct a sovereign rating to enable it borrow from international capital markets at lower costs. “To ensure the country is rated, the Standard Chartered Bank has been contacted to provide the necessary advises,” he said. “The first review of the Extended Credit Facility Programme supported by the IMF shows that all quantitative performance criteria for end of December 2013 were met and all structural benchmarks programmed for end-December were observed by the government.” He opined that there is a stable macroeconomic environment characterized by double digit economic growth, single digit inflation, low interest rates, stable exchange rates and improved revenue performance, as well as trade surplus, due to high exports and sustainable external debt. He ended up by stating that the British Department for International Development (DFID) is generally pleased with the country’s progress in fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stabilization, the commitment to good governance, as well as new focus on inclusive growth.

Related Articles

Latest Articles