11th accused referred for age assessment
September 4, 2020
Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The 11th accused person, Mohamed Kargbo, in the ongoing preliminary investigation in the Makeni riot matter, has been referred to the Sierra Leone Police Medical Doctor for age assessment.
Magistrate Mark Ngegba made the referral after the defense lawyer, Wara Serry-Karmal, applied for the 11th accused to be discharged, stating that at the time the said crime was committed the accused was below age 14.
She presented the birth certificate to the court and further referred to Section 70 of the Child Act of 2007.
Section 70 of the Act stipulates that ‘In any judicial proceeding in Sierra Leone, a child shall not be held to be criminally responsible for his actions if he is below the age of fourteen years.
She further submitted that even the looks of the 11th accused tells the court that he is a very young boy.
The State prosecutor, Yusef Sesay, opposed to the application, noting that the defense did not make mention of the Children and Young Persons Act of 1945 in her application.
He referred to Section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act which says: ‘When a child or young person is brought before a juvenile court for any offence other than homicide the case shall be finally disposed of in such court.
He submitted that the Children and Young Persons Act which is the parent Act did not say a child could not be tried if he commits criminal offense, noting that the child could be only tried in the Juvenile Court.
He said Section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Act also states that ‘Children and young persons accused of criminal offences shall be apprehended and tried in accordance with the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act.
He further submitted that all accused persons are before the court not for trial but for preliminary investigations, thus the magistrate ought not to grant the application.
Magistrate Ngegba says based on the police information before him, the 11th accused is 20 years old, noting that he cannot determine the age of the accused by just looking in his face.
He called on the defense to furnish the court with more information and evidence of their claim that the accused was below the age of 14 years at the time the crime was committed.
He ordered the referral of the accused to the Sierra Leone Police Medical Doctor for age assessment and adjourned the matter to the 10th of this month.