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Inmates narrate ordeal at correctional centre

June 17, 2016 By Patrick J. Kamara

Two prisoners who were released by Justice Sam Margai on Thursday, 16th June, 2016 for lack of prosecution have narrated that cells in the Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre houses 14 to 15 prisoners who sleep side-by-side on the floor.

“Each cell has 14 to 15 inmates with no bed facility. We slept side-by-side on the floor. We spent hours a day in this clustered and confined space,” Ansu Saffa narrated.

The released prisoners, Ansu Saffa and Ibrahim Tucker, did not mince words in describing terrible condition at the Correctional Centre, stating, “Imagine living in that suffocated and overcrowded room surrounded by urine and human excreta was extremely sad.”

Both prisoners narrated heartbreaking stories of abandonment and inhuman treatment allegedly meted on them by Correctional Officers.

In 2010, 18 African countries signed a communique which called for the total transformation of the continent’s prison system, thus paving way for the change of nomenclature from prison to Correctional Centre.

The communiqué was states that the rights of inmates should be guaranteed in accordance with all standards of human rights, as people are sent to prison to be rehabilitated and not for punishment.

But according to the freed inmates, life at the Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre was like hell and that they were poorly fed, while officers always intimidate inmates.

According to the duo, they were on remand since 9th November, 2014 for the offence of conspiracy and robbery with aggravation, but witnesses who testified against them during the preliminary hearing in the Magistrate Court failed to show up when the matter was sent to the High Court last year.

Ibrahim Tucker bemoaned the fact that the Correctional Centre was not operating in line with provisions that established it.

However, the State Prosecutor in charge of the case informed the judge that the victim who was allegedly robbed by the accused could not be traced because his address was not stated at the back of the indictment.

Lawyer Ahmed G.M. Bockarie Esq. added that he was confronted with series of constraints in getting other witnesses to testify in the matter, hence he was unable to proffer further evidence against the accused persons.

Justice Sam Margai said the only reason he was releasing the accused prisoners was due to the number of years they both had spent on remand.

“I will let you off this time, but I will merely discharge you. I will not acquit you as law demands. I however hope that you give off crime. You are discharged for want of further prosecution,” Justice Margai pronounced.

The judge, however, informed them that he was retaining the case file for the records, just in case they venture into the realm of crime again.

The ruling followed an appeal by their lawyer, Cheryl Blake, who strenuously argued that they be released for lack of state witnesses.

Both discharged accused persons were alleged by the state to have, on 9th November, 2014 at Two Sisters Bridge, NO. 2 River Beach, Peninsular Road, conspired with other individuals unknown to commit robbery with aggravation.

The state also claimed that both accused persons were armed with sharp broken bottles and knives which they used to rob one Aruna Thaimu Koroma of his TVS Star motor cycle, a waist bag containing Le300,000, Nokia mobile phone, and numerous items amounting to five million seven hundred and seventy-eight thousand Leones.

They also allegedly physically assaulted their victim.

Correctional centre officials could not be reach for their comments.

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