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Legal Aid secures release of 11 remand prisoners

April 1, 2016 

Eleven accused persons who were remanded at the Pademba Road Correctional Centre for long periods regained their freedom Wednesday, 30 March after benefiting from free legal services provided by the Legal Aid Board. The eleven had spent between two to nearly ten years on remand.

Prior to the intervention of the Legal Aid Board, the accused persons had faced an uncertain future following the disappearance of their files. “We were forgotten at the Pademba Road Prison. We were kept in the dark regarding our trial, so we resigned to fate and committed everything to divine intervention,” said Amidu Bangura, who spent nearly ten years on remand.

Amidu had a fight with one Michael Amara on 16 June, 2006 and had been in detention until the Legal Aid board secured his release on Wednesday, 30 March, 2016.

He spent six days at the Kissy Mess Mess Police Station in the East of Freetown while the case against him was being investigated. He was consequently charged with wounding with intent.

The case was heard by Magistrate Shyllon, who denied him bail on his first appearance. He was sent to the Pademba Correctional Centre to serve his remand.

Like the case of the ten others, Amidu’s file disappeared almost immediately after his case was committed to the High Court in October 2006. This meant Amidu had to stay put while the search for his file went on. This took nearly ten years!

Amidu was brought to the Law Court building on seven occasions in February this year only to be taken back to the Pademba Road Correctional Centre without being assigned to any Court.

It took the intervention of the Legal Aid Board for a solution to be found. The Board had to work with the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecution and the Office of the Mater and Registrar of the High Court to develop a new file for him.

When Amidu made his overdue appearance at the High Court before Justice Alusine Sesay, counsel for the Legal Aid Board, Ivan Sesay, made an application for the matter to be discharged for want of prosecution. To the delight of everybody in court, it took Justice Sesay a matter of seconds to approve the application.

Another accused, Arthur Baryoh, spent seven years on remand before the case against him was discharged by Justice Alusine Sesay. Arthur was charged with robbery with aggravation for buying stolen goods in May 2009.

The ten others discharged by Justice Alusine Sesay are Michael Kamara, Mohamed Mansaray, Alpha Kargbo, Edmund Abu Baker Kanu, Sahr Koroma, Dennis Koroma, Amadu Turay, Ibrahim Sesay, Amada Bangura and Dauda Bangura.

The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Claire Carlton-Hanciles, hailed the new Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the Director of Public Prosecution and the Office of the Mater and Registrar of the High Court for lending their support in developing new files for all the eleven accused persons and ensuring that they have their day in Court. ‘I just cannot thank these people enough, especially the Attorney and Minister of Justice, Hon. Joseph Kamara. They have stood by the Board to ensure justice is done and speedily for that matter,” Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said.

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