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SLPP supporters now face 10 count charges

- as State of Emergency charge dropped

February 11, 2016

The State yesterday [Wednesday February 10] dropped a charge under the State of Emergency Regulations against 12 SLPP supporters and the former Regional Senior Human Rights Officer of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, who were arrested in Kenema last year for alleged riotous conduct, among other allegations.

The 13, originally charged with 11 counts, are standing trial at the Kenema Magistrates’ Court after they were arrested on Independence Day April 27, 2015 on allegations of illegal gathering, riotous conduct, incitement and other related offences.

In his submission, Senior State Counsel Monfred Sesay told the court that he was applying to amend the formation of Count 5, which was an offence charged under the Public Emergency Regulations, stating that the prosecution does not wish to proceed with the said count; meaning the accused persons are now being tried on 10 counts.

Sesay had earlier apologised to the court for the prosecution’s absence in six sittings when the matter had been called, and assured the bench that they were ready to continue with the matter.

In his testimony, eighth prosecution witness PC Lansana Kebbie 10437 told the court that he could recall on Monday 27 April 2015 when he was detailed at the [Kenema police station] lockup alongside other officers, and that they got intelligence that some SLPP supporters were rioting at their party headquarters on Hangha Road, which led the police to storm the scene, leading to the arrest of 12 of the alleged rioting supporters.

He said the police later picked up the senior human rights officer [for alleged “obstruction”].

The witness further testified that the Human Rights Commission staff had challenged the police personnel that they had no right to arrest the demonstrators as they were merely exercising their constitutional right [to demonstrate].

When crossed examined by defence counsel B.A. Bangura as to whether he understood the work of the Human Rights Commission staff, the witness answered in the negative.

Prosecution witness 9, PC 11697 Dennis Gbondowa, also recounted the incident that led to the arrest of the 13 people. In the same vein, PW10 and PW11 gave corroborative accounts of the incident that led to the arrest of the second accused, Brima Dawson Kuyateh, and the third accused, who is the young generation leader of the SLPP women’s wing in Kenema.

PW10 and PW11 recounted that the second and third accused had gone to the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Alfred Karrow Kamara, to demand the unconditional release of the arrested demonstrators, and that it was during the process that they alleged the accused persons referred to the AIG as “stupid APC police officer who is always biased against the SLPP in Kenema”.

The matter was adjourned to today [Thursday 11 February] for further hearing.

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