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Monday, July 4, 2022

Six Months after alleged Teko Barracks mutiny… Court Martial delayed due to lack of government funding

...MoD Spokesman

By Alusine Sesay

The long-awaited court martial of 14 non-commissioned officers who were last year arrested and detained in connection with an alleged mutiny is being delayed because of lack of funds, according to the Media and Public Relations Director of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Colonel Michael Samura, in an exclusive interview with Concord Times yesterday, said the court martial of 14 alleged mutineers would commence immediately the MoD receives funds from government to facilitate the process.

Colonel Samura said the trial would cost money, although he did not say how much, as the government would have to hire the services of a Judge Advocate, defence lawyers and jurors, before the trial commences.

Sierra Leoneans were inundated with news of an alleged mutiny by non-commissioned officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in August, 2013, before the government and the military confirmed the alleged aborted mutiny.

A release from government stated that 14 non-commissioned military officers at the Teko Barracks in Makeni were arrested and brought to Freetown for their role in the said mutiny.

Following a month of joint investigations by the Military Intelligence Branch and detectives at the Criminal Investigations Department, Minister of Information and Communications, Alpha Kanu, told journalists in Freetown that six out of the 14 officers would be charged to court.

However, after waiting for weeks without a trial, and with constant queries from a critical section of the press, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Frank Kargbo, was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that the alleged mutineers would be tried in a military court martial.

That was in 2013. To date, almost six months after the men were arrested and whisked to Freetown, no trial is imminent, although the men are still being held by the military, reportedly incommunicado.

The men could face the death penalty if found guilty which, according to Colonel Samura, is the maximum penalty in accordance with the gravity of the crime, albeit they might be granted a presidential clemency.

The country has not invoked the death penalty since 1998 when 24 military officials were executed by firing squad after being tried and convicted for treason. There is at present a moratorium on the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Colonel Samura revealed that the officers are still receiving their monthly salaries as they are yet to be found guilty of any offence.

It is unclear though whether they have had access to private lawyers or indeed members of their family, including their spouses and children. One of the wives of the mutineers, who resides at the 7th Battalion in Freetown, told Concord Times that they have not had access to their spouses, but she declined to be named for fear of being reprimanded by military bosses.

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