Accused granted access to cheques, bank accounts
By Alusine Sesay
Judge Advocate in the ongoing court martial trial of 14 alleged mutineers, Otto During, yesterday ordered that the accused persons be allowed access to their personal bank accounts but subject to monitoring by prisons authorities.
The ruling was pronounced after an application by the defence team led by Julius N. Cuffie, Esq. on behalf of the second accused, Warrant Officer Class I Frederick Johnson, whose wife reportedly died of prolong breast cancer recently.
According to Cuffie, the second accused person, being the bread winner of his family, used to pay for his wife’s medical bills, which source of income has been unavailable since he was incarcerated at the Pademba Road maximum security prison upon his arrest in August 2013.
He thus sought leave from the court for the second accused to be granted leave to attend the laying out ceremony of his late wife, which application the Judge Advocate overruled on grounds of upholding state security.
The judge further noted that the death certificate that was presented in court indicated a different surname, Cecilia Saidu instead of Johnson, hence throws doubt into the claim of death.
“Even if there was any strict proof before this court, the security of the state is very paramount,” he declared.
Notwithstanding that the defence had earlier applied for the accused persons to have access to their cheques and bank accounts, which was overruled by the Judge Advocate, Mr. Cuffie again applied that the cheques be made available to them, especially the second accused who is bereaved.
He said the defence relied on the strength of the fact that the prosecution has never submitted the cheque books as part of their list of exhibits before the court, thus invited the judge to rule in the interest of humanity and equity.
The prosecution, led by Gerald Soyei, Esq., vehemently objected to all the defence’s applications.
However, Judge Advocate During ruled that: “On the grounds of humanity and equity, I would allow the accused access to their cheques and bank accounts subject to monitoring by the prisons authorities. The prisons authorities should be able to monitor and ensure that the monies they give to their families are genuine.”
Upon that declaration, Mr. Soyei noted: “I will not be in position to comply with that order because I am not in possession of the cheques.”
It therefore remains to be seen whether in fact the 14 alleged mutinous soldiers will be allowed to issue cheques to their relatives for money to be drawn from their accounts.
The accused were charged on eight counts of conspiracy to mutiny, failure to report a mutiny, among others, which they all pleaded not guilty to.
The matter was adjourned to June 4th.