Treason Trial: Koita denies involvement in Nov.26 failed coup

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1st accused in the ongoing treason trial, Amadu Koita Makalo

By Yusufu S. Bangura

Amadu Koita Makalo, the first accused in the ongoing treason trial at the Siaka Stevens Street High Court in Freetown, denied involvement in the failed coup attempt on November 26, 2023.

In his defense, led by Defense Counsel Pious Sesay, Koita asserted his innocence against the 20 counts of the indictment.

Koita testified that on November 22, 2023, he left the United Kingdom for Guinea for medical reasons and to attend his brother’s burial in Sierra Leone. He stated that he traveled from Guinea to Sierra Leone via Kambia, where he met his brother, Captain Jalloh, a serving member of the Republic of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF).

After continuing to Makeni on November 23, 2023, Koita visited a herbalist for two days for medical treatment. On November 25, he returned to Makeni and then traveled to Freetown through Lungi to visit a friend, Mahmodu Sankoh. Despite Sankoh’s request for him to stay longer, Koita declined to avoid drawing attention to his presence in the country.

In the early hours of November 26, 2023, Koita was stopped at a security checkpoint at Wilberforce, Bottom Mango while on a bike. Identified by military personnel named “Amerikin,” he was asked to dismount and subsequently taken to the guardroom at Wilberforce. Koita recounted feeling uneasy due to his military background and the armed officers’ presence.

At the guardroom, he was pressured to record an audio message but refused. Later, he was placed in a military vehicle under guard. He said on his, he met  Captain Jalloh, who promised to ensure he was treated fairly. At 3am., Captain Senessie and four others joined them, and they headed to Cockeril Gate, where gunshots were heard.

Koita described the journey through Murray Town, during which he heard a bomb blast. Attempting to escape at Campbell Street, he was noticed by a soldier in ‘Al-Shabaab’ attire, who raised an alarm. Koita said he was subsequently subdued and handed a loaded rifle.

At Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre, Koita said he heard Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Sandy instructing his men to breach the main gate and free the inmates. Amid the chaos, Koita claimed he discarded the rifle and escaped with the inmates.

During cross-examination by State Counsel Ahmed J.M. Bockarie, Koita denied knowing the herbalist named Pa Sesay or seeking fortification. He also refused to acknowledge a conversation extracted from his Samsung Galaxy mobile phone, as it was not presented during the police investigation.

Justice Komba Kamanda assured that the trial would proceed without interference. “If anyone thinks he can stop this trial where people have lost their lives, that person must be joking,” he emphasized.

The trial was adjourned to Wednesday, July 3, 2023, for further cross-examination after six hours of proceedings.

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