Sierra Leone: 3 RSLAF Personnel on trial over stolen arms and ammunition worth SLL 645 million

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They include: SLA1246 Captain Patrick Edwin Kamara, 18165301 Warrant Officer Class One Samuel Conteh and 18167256 Warrant Officer Class Two Abu Bakarr Jalloh. They are being tried in a Court Martial at the military headquarter, Cockrill, on 5 count charges

The state alleges, the three with others unknown, committed the following offenses: conspiracy (contrary to Military Law – Sec 72 of RSLAF Act No. 34 of 1961), larceny by servant (Sec 17(a) of the Larceny Act 1916), willful neglect and ordering damage to service property (Sec 49c of military law), willful damage to service property and conduct that was prejudicial to group order and military discipline, contrary to the RSLAF Act No.34 of 1961 as amended. All accused pleaded not guilty.

They are represented by the former Anti Corruption Commission boss Ade Macauley, Drussil Taylor and Amadu Koroma. The Presiding Judge Advocate Alhaji Momoh-Jah Steven is assisted by a panel of five military jurists. They include – President of the panel Lieutenant Colonel Kerifa Kamara, Lt. Col. A. B. Keita, Major Victor Momoh, Major Brima Ngavuwa Sama and Major Sallieu Kallon.

The statement of offense alleged that the three serving personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces between 2008 and 2018 stole 4245 rounds of 12.7 millimeter AA (anti-aircraft) rounds, bullets, guns and ammunitions to the value of Le683, 419,000, being property of the Government of Sierra Leone.

Lead defense lawyer denounced the state for keeping the accused in custody for over 190 days, stating that the maximum time a suspect can be detained without charges is 10 days. First accused was arrested on June 9th 2018 and has since been in custody. Six weeks ago, he said he applied for their clients to be granted bail pending charges but that the application was turned down. He called it a violation of the rights of their clients by the state.

The burden of proof, he said, lied with the state including presenting to the court forensic evidence such as fingerprint linking the accused to the allegations against them. If that is not done, he argued that the defense will be aggrieved.

In consideration of this, the Judge Advocate assured the defense team that their clients will be ensured a speedy trial that will not last more than three months. However, he demurred to grant bail stating that the accused will continue to be in custody in their military cells.

 

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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