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At Court Martial:

Defence demands justice ‘even if heaven should fall’

June 30, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

The court martial trial of 13 alleged military mutineers is nearing completion as the defence yesterday addressed the court. Lawyer representing the 14th accused, Captain Prince Sesay, urged the judge advocate to deliver justice at whatever cost “even if the heavens should fall”.

“Let the heavens fall as long as it is for justice. I invite that the 14th accused be discharged of all count charges, acquitted and be allowed to the status quo ante and serve the government of Sierra Leone,” submitted Robert B. Kowa Esq.

He said the 14th accused was charged with 6 counts ranging from conspiracy to mutiny to failure to suppress a mutiny, and that in the strict application of the principle of conspiracy the prosecution had failed woefully to bring forth any evidence that would establish or link the accused to having conspired with any of the other accused persons or any other person.

He based his argument on Exhibits U1 and U2 which were letters written to the 4th Infantry Battalion, requesting a meeting of members of Squad 99.

He said the prosecution had alleged in court that the continued interest of the 14th accused in respect of Squad 99 was sufficient enough to establish that there was a conspiracy, but noted that they failed to adduce sufficient evidence to show the accused had continued interest.

Counsel Kowa further argued that the 14th accused did tell the court that he was approached by one Corporal Hamilton to lead them to the commanding officer and that the alibi was corroborated by Corporal Hamilton when he testified as Defence Witness No. 2 in court.

He again told the court that though the prosecution had submitted that the 14th accused was not the proper person to have met the military authorities for such a request, the accused was not reprimanded by the commanding officer or any senior officer in the 4th battalion for leading Corporal Hamilton.

He noted that Exhibits U1 and U2 were signed by the commanding officer and senior military officers of repute at the 4th battalion.

Kowa posed the rhetorical questions that: “Is that continued interest? Can that constitute to conspiracy?”

He added: “I am bold to say the obvious conclusion we may think of in that standard or in law is a complete ‘NO’. An attempt to say yes will certainly bring the commanding officer and all the other signatories to come and answer before this court if the documents are authentic. I believe that the 14th accused must work out as a free man.”

Kowa maintained that the signatories approved the meeting and that if the court was to consider that the letter was intended to bring people together to overthrow or to mutiny against the president’s Armed Forces, then the other signatories ought to come and answer before the court.

“But the court holds otherwise vis-à-vis the legitimacy and authenticity of the letter. I invite your lordship that the only signatory before this court must be set free. There is no iota of evidence talking about Saint Andrew’s meeting,” he argued.

He also touched on the telephone conversation between the 14th and 4th accused Private Mohamed Massaquoi, noting that such communication was official as the phone number was the official number of the former, which he registered with the military.

He said it would be dangerous to prosecute people for communicating on the phone without indicating what was communicated.

“The sim is not before this court. There is no recorded conversation or transcript of the messages that touch on the communication between the 14th and the 4th accused persons,” he said. “The only evidence we can rely on is the incontrovertible testimony of the 14th accused. The communication was official in respect of the girl child education challenge project being supervised by the 14th accused.”

Also, lead defence counsel representing the 1st to 5th accused persons, Julius N. Cuffie Esq., submitted that evidences adduced against his clients were “complete sham” and called on the judge to rule without fear or favour.

He addressed the court on “inconsistencies” in the testimony of the 2nd prosecution witness, Sergeant Mamadu Borbor Jalloh.

Lawyer Thomas Beah, who is representing the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th accused persons, also made a submission, while barrister Ishmael Philip Mammy, representing the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th accused persons, is due to address the court on Friday, 3 July.

The 13military officers were charged with 8 counts ranging from mutiny, conspiracy to commit mutiny, and failure to suppress mutiny, among a host of other charges.

They had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The matter continues at the Military Court Martial Centre at Cockerill.

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