September 4, 2015 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Hawa Amara
After nearly one year on trial on allegations of rape, wounding, wounding with intent and assault, the erstwhile Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology II, Mahmoud Tarawally, was yesterday acquitted and discharged on all counts by Justice Abdulai Charm at the Freetown High Court.
Mr. Tarawally was relieved of his duty by President Ernest Bai Koroma after a young college girl alleged he had raped and assaulted her at a private house in Kingtom, west of Freetown.
A press release from the presidency dated 10 September, 2014 said: “The general public is hereby informed that following allegations of sexual assault and rape against Mr. Mamoud Tarawally, Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the police are conducting investigations pertaining thereto. While the investigations continue, His Excellency the President has relieved Mr. Tarawally of his duties as Deputy Minister with immediate effect.”
Mr. Tarawally was investigated by a magistrate who adjudged he has a case to answer in the High Court, thus commuting the matter for trial. He was arraigned in the High Court on 11 February, 2014, but pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all four offences he was charged with.
While reading the judgment, Justice Charm maintained that the prosecution had summoned nine witnesses to prove their case, whilst the defence called two witnesses.
The judge told the court that the issue of consent was vital to prove the offence of rape. He said though both parties had agreed that there was an intercourse, the court was left to determine whether it was done with or without consent.
According to the trial judge, the victim’s willingness to follow the accused to a house in Kingtom, climbing the stairs, entering the room and sitting on the bed without being forced, was a clear manifestation of consent.
“Though there was some swelling on the lower lip of the accused and some bruises on her face, it created doubt in my mind. What is left to decipher is whether it was done after or before the intercourse because the victim told me that she was assaulted after the incident,” the judge said.
The judge further noted that the testimony of Dr. Matilda King from the Rainbow Centre – a specialist hospital for victims of sexual violence – contradicted the victim’s evidence that she was raped. The judge said Dr. King had admitted under cross-examination that in a situation when force is used to rape, the vagina becomes reddish, which was absent in the doctor’s report.
For the offences of wounding with intent, wounding and assault, the judge told the court that the defence counsel had earlier pleaded with the court to discharge the accused on those counts because of want of evidence.
The judge maintained that the prosecution had failed to proffer evidence against the accused on all counts and thus acquitted and discharged him.
L. Nylender, who stood in the stead his senior Sulaiman Kabba Koroma, welcomed the judgment.
Speaking briefly to the press after the judgment, Mr. Tarawally thanked the judiciary for dispensing justice within the spirit of the law.
“I am not surprised for the judgment because the evidence before the court speaks for itself. I have gone through a lot of humiliation, but thank God I am free today,” he said.
Asked whether he will institute an action against the complainant, Umu Bah, Mr. Tarawally said he was going to hang heads with his legal team and family members.
Meanwhile, the victim was seen bitterly weeping after the judge pronounced the judgment.