9 January 2019

Sierra Leone: At Court Martial - Witness Explains How 8 Bags of Anti-Aircraft Rounds Were Discovered

The first prosecution witness in the ongoing court martial trial of three military personnel, Sheku Swaray, has narrated in the court as to how some eight bags of anti-aircraft rounds were discovered in a cesspit at a compound closed to the Presidential Lodge, Hill Station in Freetown.

The witness who identified himself as a plumber, said on 18th June, 2018, he was hired by one Nyakeh to fix his toilet and do some other masonry work at a certain site closed to the lodge.

He said when they arrived at the site, he observed the place and enquired about the toilet.

The witness who explained through an interpreter said Nyakeh told him that there were two cesspits around the vicinity, which he moved to observed.

"When I approached the first one, I pushed the slab half way and I saw large cache of big and small rounds. I shouted and called out Nyakeh who came together with certain military officer and helped me removed the slab," he testified.

The witness explained that he was questioned by some military personnel that were present at the scene and later allowed him to go home, promising to call on him when the need arises.

Meanwhile, when the rounds were shown to the witness, he identified them as the same rounds he saw on the day of the incident.

Earlier, the lead prosecutor, lawyer Allieu Vandi Koroma, addressing the court before the witness took to the box, said his duty was to prove the guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt and any iota of doubt that will go in favour of the accused persons.

He noted that the guilt of the accused persons could be proven by using both direct and indirect evidence, adding that the prosecution might make use of circumstantial evidence as the trial proceeds.

He told the Court Martial Board Members and the Judge Advocate, Justice Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens, that the accused persons were part of the Joint Presidential Guard Force attached to former President Ernest Bai Koroma, who were entrusted with a large cache of ammunition.

He told the Bench that when the former president retired, the presidential guards were withdrawn and a stockpile of the ammunition was done, adding that they discovered some discrepancies which brought about the trial of the three personnel.

He called on board members to base the court martial on due process and in conformity with the dictates of the laws of the land, especially the constitution of the country and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 1961, as amended.

He said board members were expected to painstakingly ensure that every step or action taken in the trial process was in conformity with the provisions of the laws, and that they should meticulously listen to the evidence as it unfolds.

On his part, the Judge Advocate noted that board members were carefully selected considering their ranks, seniority, general service knowledge and wealth of experience to ensure a fair trial and to enhance the course of justice.

He urged both the prosecution and the defence to expedite the trial and not to allow delay based on unnecessary technicalities.

He assured the accused persons that the court would be fair and just and that justice will not only be done, but must be seen to be done.

The accused persons, SL/1246 captain Patrick Edwin Kamara, RSLAF 18165301 Warrant Officer Class one, Samuel Conteh and RSLAF 18167256 Warrant Officer Class two, Abu Bakarr Jalloh,are before the court for conspiracy, larceny by servant, wilful neglect and ordering damage to service property, wilful damage of service property, and conduct that is prejudicial to the group order and military discipline, contrary to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 1961, as amended.

They are represented by Ade Macauley, Durucil Taylor and Amadu Koroma.

The matter comes on Tuesday, January 15th.

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