Treason trial:Defense alleges torture of accused by police

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By Yusufu S Bangura

In the ongoing treason trial involving Amadu Koita Makolo and 11 others, the defense counsel representing the 2nd accused, Mohamed Jalloh, revealed before Justice Komba Kamanda that his client was tortured, electrocuted, and forced to make a confessional statement by the police at Benghazi.

The revelation came just after the eighth prosecution witness, Detective Police Sergeant 8526 Issa Kamara, was about to tender the statement of the 2nd accused in evidence.

Kamara recognised the 2nd accused and recalled an incident on December 1, 2023, when Detective Inspector AbuBakarr Kargbo showed him military uniforms and other items found inside the apartment of the 2nd accused at Rogbangba junction in Freetown.

The witness stated that during the investigation, the accused was interviewed on multiple occasions, and his statement was obtained voluntarily.

However, Defense Counsel F. Mansaray objected to the tendering of the statement as evidence, asserting that the confessions were not voluntary.

Mansaray claimed that his client was tortured and forced to make the statement, alleging severe beatings and electrocution during an interrogation session at Benghazi.

Mansaray further claimed that the accused had requested the presence of a lawyer during the interview but was denied that opportunity.

In response, Mansaray applied for a Voir dire trial to be conducted to assess the voluntariness of the statements. He argued that the burden was on the prosecution to prove the statements were obtained voluntarily and emphasized that the accused had informed the investigating team about the torture he experienced.

The prosecutor, lawyer Ahmed J.M Bockarie, expressed readiness for a Voirdire trial and challenged the defense to be specific on the areas where it should be conducted.

Bockarie stated that the prosecution was prepared to prove that the statements were obtained voluntarily and contended that the defense’s allegations were unrelated to the investigation.

Justice Kamanda ruled in favor of a Voirdire trial to assess the statements of the 2nd accused. The proceedings were adjourned to Monday, March 4, 2024, for further hearing. During the Voirdire trial, the courtroom was cleared of the jury, members of the public, and journalists to conduct the proceedings in private.

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