Trade monitor testifies in ‘Bitter Kola’ case


February 5, 2015 By Hawa Amara

A trade monitor at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mohamed Poto Bangura, yesterday testified against two accused persons who are alleged to have pirated 10 cartons of Bitter Kola energizer drink.

The accused, Sulaiman Munu and Mamoud Kamara, were arraigned at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.1 presided over by Magistrate Komba Kamanda on two counts of conspiracy contrary to law, and infringement of copyright contrary to Section 71(d) of the Copyright Act 2001.

The particulars of offence state that the duo was caught pirating 10 cartons of the non-alcoholic drink on Friday, 9 January 2015 at No.15 Kissy Road in Freetown, thus violating copyrights owned by the manufacturer of the product, Kadco Sierra Leone Limited.

In his testimony, Bangura told the court he is charged with the responsibility of monitoring expired products in the market and that he knew the accused persons.

He told the court he had informed officers at the Eastern police station on 9 January about their presence in the precinct to execute their duty.

He said he had seen the Bitter Kola drinks with some ladies at the First International Bank (FIB) on Kissy Road, and had questioned them where they bought it from.

He explained that the ladies then led his team to the location where they had bought the drinks, and that he saw 2nd accused (Mamoud Kamara) selling to another woman.

“I then showed him my ID card and told him that we were there to monitor food product, and he gave us the go ahead. During the monitoring, we discovered that the cover of the drink was dented to the extent that someone’s finger can easily remove it,” the witness said.

He said the accused was questioned as to why the cover was easily removable, and replied that he was not the owner of the product.

He said the police later came to the scene before the 1st accused (Sulaiman Munu) arrived and was also quizzed on why the cover of the drinks could be easily removed.

The witness said the accused were arrested and brought to the Eastern police station for further investigation, adding that the company sent a representative who told detectives the seized products were not theirs, although the bottles, cover and logo were theirs.

Defence counsel F.B. Gerber applied for bail on behalf of the accused persons on the grounds that they were not flight risk.

However, police prosecutor Inspector J.M. Sanjah objected to bail on the grounds that their co-conspirators were on the run and that there was every likelihood the accused persons could jump bail.

Accordingly, Magistrate Kamanda denied the accused bail and adjourned the matter to 11 February.