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Special Commentary

End to impunity: Herbert has his day in court!

May 30, 2018

Herbert George Williams, the disgraced former Mayor of the Freetown City Council finally had his day in court yesterday! As expected, his belated court appearance was not without drama. Williams, who is no stranger to court appearances, was making his maiden appearance in the assault case against Patrick Jaiah Kamara, 22, a precocious reporter at Concord Times and student of Mass Communications.

Patrick was savagely attacked and brutalised by Herbert Williams and other goons of the All Peoples Congress (APC) on March 31 – the day for the presidential runoff election.

The Criminal Investigations Department finally charged Herbert with three counts of conspiracy, assault and malicious damage, his first criminal prosecution after his conviction for corruption offences in 2012.

After almost two months following the cowardly attack by APC goons on the journalist at Mafa field in Lumley, the police finally charged the matter to court yesterday, 29 May, following immense pressure by this medium and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.

Herbert is the Western Area Regional Organising Secretary of the APC, the then ruling party. He was represented by Lansana Dumbuya, A.R. Nylander and Madieu Sesay.

The disgraced former mayor was accompanied to court by the immediate past mayor, Bode Gibson and many other APC stalwarts, apparently in a show of solidarity to their misbehaving comrade. Ironically, while the party has failed to condemn unprovoked violence perpetrated by their members both in the run-up to and on election day, they have been shouting from the rooftop that the ruling party should condemn violence unleashed on their supporters post-elections.

We abjure violence in any shape or form and unequivocally stand with victims of despicable attacks like the one perpetrated by APC goons on runoff election day.

It is therefore our collectively determination to fight against impunity in order to prevent future attacks on journalists or any individual. We have no reason, at this point, to believe that we will not get justice, but we wish to put it on record that this case is a test case for the police and judiciary.

Quite bizarrely the police prosecutor failed to object to bail as they often do, vehemently. We recognise that bail is the discretion of the Bench, but the rule of practice in our jurisdiction is that the prosecutor most often than not object to bail, especially on the first appearance.

We observe also that either by coincidence or by design, the Chief Justice entered the courtroom just before the hearing and whispered to the police prosecutors. For the records, we are in no way insinuating anything against the Chief Justice – who was apparently inspecting air conditioners in the courtroom!

Although the disgraced former mayor was in the company of Sanusi Bruski Kargbo and dozens of thugs dressed in black on that fateful day, the former is standing trial alone because his comrade-in-arms (pun intended) is at large.

It is yet earlier days, but we are calling on the Judiciary to treat this case with the seriousness it deserve and allow justice to take its cause. We also urge the police prosecutor to conduct the matter professional.

This is an initial victory for the journalist fraternity as we fight to end impunity for crimes committed against us in the line of duty. Herbert and his ilk should appreciate the sacrifices we make to inform, educate and entertain, and see us not as politicians but professionals.

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