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Squadron leader denies forgery charge at Court Martial

May 4, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

Squadron leader Philip J. Shenks of the Air Wing of the Sierra Leone military has denied two counts of forgery, following his arraignment at the regular court martial.

Judge Advocate Alhaji Abu B. King, who presides at the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) Court Martial sitting at Military Headquarters, Cockerill in Freetown, last week, adjourned the criminal matter involving Squadron leader Philip J. Shenks.

The defence team, led by eminent legal luminary E.E.C. Shears-Moses, opened their case on Thursday, 30 April.

However, the hearing was adjourned after the Judge Advocate upheld the prosecution’s objection against the tendering of a document on the grounds that it ought to have been served on the prosecution prior to it being tendered in court.

The document in question is a report of the Military Commanding Officer’s investigation into the allegation for which the accused, Squadron leader Shenks, is standing trial at the court martial, charged with two counts of forging an official document, contrary to Section 65 of the Armed Forces Act of 1961, and conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, contrary to Section 71(a) of the same Act as amended.

According to the prosecution, between 10th and 15th December, 2012 the accused made a false study leave approval document, knowing it to be false in a material time in that he inserted a false name and signature purporting to be the name and signature of the Director of Personnel at the Ministry of Defence.

The matter is being prosecuted by private legal practitioner Ishmael Philip Mammy and State Counsel Major Vincent Sowa.

Led in evidence by defence counsel Shears-Moses, the accused told the court that he stays at Block B7 at the Goderich Barracks and that he is a pilot in the Air Wing of the RSLAF.

He told the court that he was enlisted into the army in 1994 and that he had been subjected to investigations prior to the matter for which he was before the court but had never been found wanting.

“I proceeded on a course in the United Kingdom in 2011 and returned to Sierra Leone in April 2013 after my graduation ceremony in January 2013,” he explained.

Major Shenks denied authoring a letter requesting for an extension of his study leave.

When asked whether he had knowledge of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountancy of the London School of Finance, the accused admitted having knowledge only about the Chartered Institute of Management Accountancy and not the London School of Finance.

He also denied applying to study for the Chartered Management and Accountancy at the London School of Finance and that he had no knowledge of Exhibit G, which is a letter dated 14th December, 2012, purportedly seeking for an extension of his study leave.

The accused added that he had never been shown the original copy of the said exhibit despite having faced three sets of investigations with regard the said document.

He told the court that he was served with only a copy of the investigations that were conducted regarding Exhibit G.

The matter commenced at the court martial on 9 September, 2014 and the prosecution has since presented three witnesses that have testified.

The prosecution has closed their case, while the defence now has the onus to disprove evidence tendered against the accused.

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