25 February 2013

Sierra Leone: Complainants, Prisoners Moan Slow Trial Process

Dozens of complainants and remand prisoners on trial have expressed their disgust over the snail pace at which cases are being tried in court.

In an exclusive interview with one of the remand prisoners, Mohamed Sankoh, he told Concord Times that his case has been in court for the past three years without any progress made on the matter. He said each time he appears in court the magistrate would give long adjournment date.

"I am not on bail but I have been appearing in this court since 2010," protested Sankoh. "Each time I appear in court, the prosecution would always ask for an adjournment date. Even the complainant has not been coming to court, so I am pleading with the government to look into my matter."

He claimed that since police arrested him in an alleged robbery matter, no witness has testified against him in court. Another aggrieved remand prisoner, Alhaji Kamara, also expressed similar frustrations, saying he was arrested by a police officer for allegedly being in possessionof a rap of marijuana during last year's Easter celebrations.

He said he has no representation in court and that he has on several occasions pleaded with the magistrate to either fine him or grant him bail but to no avail. Fatu Kargbo, a complainant in a matter being heard in Court No. 1, said her legal representation has not been appearing on her behalf, thus leading to delay in the matter.

It could be recalled that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo, had stated in a Radio Democracy 98.1 FM broadcast last month that the judiciary was doing all it could to fast-track matters in court. But it seems this has not been the case as complainants and remand prisoners continue togrumble about the slow pace and/or lack of progress being made in theircases before the courts.

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