July 3, 2019
By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
The Military Court Martial in Sierra Leone yesterday convicted and sentenced in absentia the former head of the Joint Presidential Guard Force, Captain Edwin Kamara, to ten years imprisonment and his co. accused RSLAF 18167256 Warrant Officer Class two, Abu Bakarr Jalloh, to three years imprisonment.
The court also set free RSLAF 18165301 Warrant Officer Class one, Samuel Conteh.
The State Prosecution led by Allieu Vandy Kororma summoned 20 witnesses to prove the case against the accused persons, who took 377 day in custody.
The soldiers were part of the Joint Presidential Guard Force for Ex-President Koroma, but after the 2018 elections, the trio could not account for ammunition that was entrusted to them.
The trial which took about six months was conducted by the Judge Advocate Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens and five Board Members including Lieutenant Colonel Kerifa Kamara as president of the board, Lieutenant Colonel A.B Keita, Major Victor Momoh, Major Brima Ngavuwa Sama, and Captain E. G Samuka
Meanwhile, the men were not put on bail throughout the trial, but captain Kamara escaped from the military holding centre in May close to the end of the trial.
In his summing up judgment, Justice Stevens stated that most of the prosecution witnesses summoned implicated the first and second accused persons and that the duo were not able to disprove the prosecution during their defense.
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The judge added that the attitude of the first accused and his defense witnesses were very political and shouldn’t be the case for a military officer who supposed to serve everyone irrespective of political affiliation.
“I see a case against the first accused (Patrick Edwin Kamara) in all charges. He is a criminal. I want him to go to jail. He is not before the court today, because in my view, he saw this coming. This is a man who has proved before this court that he runs his own army; he is not accountable to nobody because he brought some documents here that his bosses didn’t have and those documents are not supposed to be in his possession,” he said.
The judge stated the he saw ‘too much criminality in the behaviour of the first accused’ as the material he had on his computer supposed to have given it to his chain of command but he chose not to make available to them.
He stated that one of the witnesses that testified in defence of the first accused was also very political as during his testimony he stated that ‘we have lost power’. The judge however recommended for that particular witness to be taken to Benguima for a year for fresh training.
For the second accused, the judge said he had allowed his boss (captain Kamara) to use him for the wrong reasons. He thus urged the board members to return a guilty verdict for him and his boss.
“I see a case against him on count 1 and count 4. I see no case in count 2 and for count five you can use your discretion base on the law,” he said
Meanwhile, lawyer for the second accused, Amadu Koroma told journalists outside the courtroom that he would appeal the judgment as he was not convinced that his client was guilty on those counts.
“I will definitely appeal the decision of the court. I will begin to do that by tomorrow, and before the end of this week it would be before the Court of Apeals,” he said.
The trio are before the Court Martial to answer to five counts ranging from conspiracy, larceny by servant, willful neglect and ordering damage to service property, willful damage of service property, to conduct that was prejudicial to the group order and military discipline, contrary to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 1961 as amended. But they have pleaded not guilty to the offences