November 11, 2016
The Legal Aid Board secured the discharge of a 15-year-old Guinean boy who was standing trial for conspiracy and shopbreaking.
Joseph Turay of Defence for Children International (DCI) said his organisation has been involved in the matter since this September 2016 when they started monitoring it at the Eastern Police Station in Freetown. He added that DCI also did family tracing for the accused but could not track any family member. According to Joseph, the only family member people knew about was said to have returned to Guinea a long time ago.
Joseph said they brought the matter to the attention of the Legal Aid Board and the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affair for assistance, plus legal representation and psycho-social support.
Lawyer for Legal Aid Board, Joel Deen Tarawally, started representing the teenager on 31 October 2016. Even though an application for bail was granted by Magistrate Atto During, they could not secure a surety. This meant the accused had to remain on remand at the Juvenile Remand Home.
The matter was discharged yesterday (10 November 2016) for want of prosecution as a result of doubts in the records. This follows an adjournment for clarification because the records from the Magistrate Court were unclear and raised serious doubts in the Juvenile Court, due in part to the fact that the boy was jointly charged with an adult who had already been discharged.
Following his release, the teenager said thieves broke into the shop he was sleeping in when he went to the toilet, adding that he immediately reported trhe incident to owner of the shop, who told him the matter will be examined in the morning. At dawn, the owner of the shop reported the matter to the Eastern Police Station, he said. Thus, he was invited to the station and detained as investigations ensued – he spent five days in police cell before the matter was charged to court.
During pre-discharge counseling at the head office of the Legal Aid Board, he expressed desire to return to Guinea.
Meanwhile, a source at the Board says they will facilitate his return to Guinea through the support of the Sierra Motor Drivers Association.