Treason Trial: Correctional Service Officer testifies

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By Yusufu S. Bangura

Morlai Conteh, a prison officer assigned to the Male Correctional Centre at Pademba Road as a carpenter, testified as the 22nd prosecution witness in the ongoing treason trial of 12 alleged coup plotters.

 His testimony unfolded yesterday before Justice Komba Kamanda at the High Court on Siaka Steven Street.

Conteh detailed his duties as a carpenter, which included training inmates and providing security at the correctional center. He recounted reporting for duty on Saturday, November 25, 2023, around 11 pm. Upon arrival, he noted the presence of 1,919 inmates, including those serving life imprisonment and condemned inmates.

During his shift, Conteh mentioned hearing gunshots around 1 am, although he attributed it to outside noise as music was playing. As the night progressed, gunfire persisted, but Conteh remained confident due to the deployment of armed officers.

The situation escalated around 7 am when Conteh, awaiting his replacement, heard heavy gunfire near the correctional center where unknown individuals demanded entry, threatening harm if denied.

Fearing for his safety, Conteh sought refuge and witnessed gunfire targeting the center’s gate and attempts to breach cell padlocks.

Upon emerging from hiding, Conteh discovered broken padlocks and missing inmates, except for three found in the condemned cell. Subsequently, he retreated to his residence.

Following Conteh’s testimony, he was not subjected to cross-examination by defense lawyers, as he did not implicate any of the accused individuals. The prosecutor informed the judge of the unavailability of the 23rd prosecution witness due to illness, prompting an adjournment to Monday, April 8, 2024, for the next witness to testify. Justice Kamanda approved the request and adjourned the proceedings accordingly.

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