Captain Kamara, body guard to former President Ernest Bai Koroma and two others has been kept in custody for over 197 days since June 2018. His pre-trail incarceration, according to reports was due to allegations of military hardware theft and conspiracy to cause carnage.
Defence lawyer, Durucil Taylor, last Friday told the Judge Advocate, Justice Alhaji Momoja Stevens, that his client (Warrant Officer Class one, Samuel Conteh) had spent 197 days in incarceration without bail.
Taylor made the above claim at the pre-trial of SL/1246 captain Patrick Edwin Kamara, RSLAF 18165301 Warrant Officer Class one, Samuel Conteh and RSLAF 18167256 Warrant Officer Class two, Abu Bakarr Jalloh.
The trio are before the Court Martial to answer to five counts ranging from conspiracy, larceny by servant, willful neglect and ordering damage to service property, willful damage of service property, to conduct that was 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. But they have pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Lawyer Taylor said the period his client had taken in detention would make the public to believe that he was already guilty of the said offences even before the trail. He noted that his client’s freedom was guaranteed in Section 17(3) of the 1991 constitution.
But the Judge Advocate stated that the accused persons were being detained at the military facility whilst the joint investigation (military and police) was in progress and not before the court. Thus, he would not comment as to why the accused was not on bail whilst the said investigation was ongoing.
The men are being tried by a Judge Advocate and five Board members including Lieutenant Colonel Kerifa Kamara as president of the board, Lieutenant Colonel A.B Keita, Major Victor Momoh, Major Brima Ngavuwa Sama, and Major Sallieu Kallon.
The pre-trial which lasted for about five hours witnessed legal arguments between State and defense counsel.
Lawyer Ade Macauley who represented the Captain and Lawyer Amadu Koroma who represented the Warrant Officer Class two, argued that their clients had no business to be in court because the allegation brought against them was malicious.
“The prosecution has brought a case against my client of which he has no business. The case against him is that certain military properties were found in a public building of which he had left some seven months ago. I canvass your lordship not to continue this matter in respect of my client,” Koroma argued.
But the Judge Advocate was quick to turn down his application, stating that he would sit on the matter and ensure that justice is delivered.
For Lawyer Ade Macauley, he argued that his client is a senior officer in the military that was knowledgeable about the rules, thus appealing for the Bench to put him on bail.
“My Lord, I am appealing to the good conscience of the court to admit the accused to bail. It is no gain-saying that the first accused was arrested on the 21st June 2018 and since then he hasn’t been admitted to bail. I know there is no specific rule, but the constitution is our ground norm which speaks volume,” he said.
The accused persons being subject to military law under Section 192 (1)(a) of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act 1961, were jointly charged with the following offences.
They were alleged to have committed a civil offence contrary to Section 72 of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 1961 as amended, in that they allegedly conspired to steal.
The accused persons were alleged to have between January 1st, 2008 and 19th June, 2018, in Freetown, with intent to steal from the government of Sierra Leone, conspired together with other persons unknown to steal by unlawfully agreeing to steal 4,245 rounds of 12.7 millimeter AA rounds, 3,828 rounds of 14.5 millimeter AA rounds, 11 guns of RPG 6 rounds of 7.62/39 milimetres, 11,476 rounds of 7.62/39 millimeters gun, 14,100 rounds of 7.62/39 millimeters tracer, 6,740 rounds of 7.62/51 millimeters bird wink, 515 rounds of 9/18 millimeters, all to the value of $80,402.30 equivalent to Le 683,490,550, property of the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL).
In count two, the investigators alleged that the men committed a civil offence contrary to Section 72 of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 9161 as amended, that is to say larceny by servant contrary to Section 17(2) (a) of the Larceny Act of 1916.
The particulars of offence stated that the men stole the said guns listed in count one above.
According to the statement of offence stated in count three, the men willfully damaged service property contrary to Section 49(c) of the Armed Forces of the Republic Sierra Leone Act of 1961.
It was alleged that the accused persons on the same date and place, willfully damaged 1,600 rounds of 14.5 mm anti-aircraft ammunition and 178 rounds of 12.7mm anti-aircraft ammunition, all to the value of $10,401.40 Le88, 401,900 property of Government of Sierra Leone.
In count four, the soldiers were charged with willful neglect and ordering damage to service property contrary to Section 49(b) of the Armed Forces of the Republic Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 1961 as amended.
The particulars of offence states that: the accused persons by means of willful neglect, ordered damage to the said property listed in count three.
It was also alleged in count five that the accuse’ conduct was prejudicial to the group order and military discipline contrary to Section 71 of the Armed Forces of the Republic Sierra Leone Act of 1961.
The prosecution alleged that the accused persons on the same date and place, being members of the Armed Forces of the Republic Sierra Leone, were involved in a conduct prejudicial to the group order and military discipline being that they improperly disposed of all the ammunition listed in count one.
State prosecutor, Allieu Vandi Koroma, who had earlier objected to bail, noting the seriousness of the offence, applied for the Bench to allow him bring additional witnesses, but the defence lawyers objected to his application, which the judge would give a ruling on at the next sitting.
The trial proper would commence on Tuesday January 8, 2019 of which the prosecution is expected to summon two witnesses.
At the end of the trial, the Judge Advocate would hand down a summing up judgment and provide legal advice to the Board Members who are expected to return with a verdict.
According to the Judge Advocate, the trial would last for three months. The matter was adjourned to Tuesday, January 8, 2019.