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AT COURT MARTIAL…

Defence tells court: Squad 99 meeting was not for munity

SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 By Patrick J. Kamara

A meeting by the self-styled ‘Squad 99’ in August last year at the Saint Andrews Secondary School, Tekko Barracks in Makeni, was not for the purpose of mutiny but to discuss the welfare of squad members, according to defence counsel Robert B. Kowa.

Whilst making a no-case submission in respect of the 14th accused, Captain Prince Sesay, at the ongoing court martial trying 14 alleged mutinous soldiers, Kowa told the military court that his client was arrested on 17 August, 2013 and spent eight months in prison before the trial commenced on 2 April, 2014.

The defence counsel further stated that ‘Squad 99’ was part of troops recruited in 1999, and that their meeting at Saint Andrews was to address the welfare of members and that permission was sought to hold the said meeting.

“The said gathering was the only meeting the 14th accused, Captain Prince Sesay took part in,” he told the court. “This meeting was not designed to resist and disobey the lawful authority of His Excellency’s Armed Forces. The consistent phone calls my client received were in respect of the girl child education project that he was supervising.”

He further told the court that the six counts of conspiracy, mutiny, failure to suppress mutiny and failure to report munity, among other offences the 14th accused was charged with, did not link the latter to any of the charges. He said all the eleven prosecution witnesses did not in any way incriminate the 14th accused in their testimonies.

He said that police investigator, Paul Claude Brima, who tendered the voluntary caution statements of the 14th accused, virtually denied that there was anything indicative in the caution statement to charge his client, as the former had said in court that the 14th accused was charged upon the order of the Director of Public Prosecution.

“It is [an] undisputed fact that none of the prosecution witnesses mentioned the 14th accused in any event of the issues raised in the indictment. He did not attend any unlawful meetings, neither was he aware of any meetings geared towards mutiny. I therefore respectfully urge the Bench to discharge and acquit my client,” he urged.

The defence counsel made the submission pursuant to Rule 58 (1&2) of the Court Martial Rule of 2003.

Earlier, state prosecutor Gerald Soyei applied for the exclusion of all trial members during the no-case submission pursuant to Section 58 of the Court Martial Procedure Rule of 2003 and Rule 81(1) (h) of the same rule.

He cited Blackstone’s Commentary at page 1726, under the rubric of no-case submission, that jury or trial members should not be au fait with anything about the submission and should be sent out of the court whilst the submissions are made and no mention should be made of what occurred in their absence during the no-case submission.

This application was upheld by the Judge Advocate Otto During.

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