22 June 2015

Sierra Leone: At Court Martial - Defence Tenders 'Expert Evidence'

Forensic expert, Detective Sergeant Joseph Abubakarr Sanu attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters in Freetown, yesterday tendered in court the forensic report on the prosecution's 'Exhibit G', the alleged leave extension letter for which the accused, Squadron Leader Philip Joseph Shenks, is standing trial at the regular court martial at the military headquarters, Cockerill in the west of Freetown.

The forensic report, which the prosecution had earlier objected to being tendered in court, was on Thursday 18th June finally tendered alongside other documents attached to the letter of request that the defence counsel had written to the CID for a forensic analysis to be conducted on 'Exhibit G'.

According to the defence witness, "All signatures allegedly representing Squadron Leader, Philip Joseph Shenks on Exhibits B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I are similar, therefore, it is highly probable that they could have been authored by the same person.

On the other hand he said, "The signature allegedly representing Squadron Leader Philip Joseph Shenks on Exhibits B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I, when compared with the signature allegedly representing the Director of Personnel, Ministry of Defence on 'Exhibit A3', are dissimilar; therefore, it is highly probable that they could have been executed by different people. The author of Exhibits B, C, D, F, G, H and I is different from the author of Exhibit A3'."

According to the witness, they received from the defence counsel documents including 'Exhibit G', the alleged leave extension letter for which the accused is standing trial, a letter of approval of study leave for the accused, letter of request for summary dealings, and a reminder letter for summary dealings, among a host of other documents, which were subjected to calligraphic examination and the findings reduced into writing.

He said their task was to find out whether the signatures representing the accused on the documents marked by the CID as Exhibits B, C, D3, E, F, G, H and I were of common authority with the signature on 'Exhibit A3', allegedly representing the Director of Personnel at the Ministry of Defence.

Meanwhile, the exhibit marked by the CID as 'A3' is the alleged leave extension letter for which the accused is standing trial. It was however earlier tendered in court by the prosecution and marked as 'Exhibit G' by the court martial administration.

The witness was cross-examined by lead prosecutor, Ishmael Phillip Mammy, who put it to him that he did an independent job for the court prior to the production of the forensic analysis for the defence, for which witness Sanu replied in the affirmative.

He was asked as to what was the consideration for the work he did for the accused, in other words, how much was he paid, but the witness replied that he was not paid but the government was paid through the Bank of Sierra Leone.

He noted that he acted on the instructions of his bosses and that he was not in constant touch with the accused when he was conducting the forensic analysis.

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