The Presiding Judge Advocate of Court Martial, Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens on Tuesday July 2, 2019, sentenced the first accused in absentia, fugitive Captain Patrick E. Kamara and the third accused person Warrant Officer Class II, Abu Bakarr Jalloh to 10 years and three years in prison, respectively. The 2ndaccused, Warrant Officer Class 1, Samuel Conteh is acquitted and discharged.
The court martial was presided by the Judge Advocate Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens and the court martial board: Lieutenant Colonel Kerifa Kamara, president of court martial board; Lieut. Col. A. B. Keita; Major Victor Momoh; Captain E. J Samuka and Major Sallieu Kallon.
The Court Martial trail which started on January 4, 2019, ended yesterday July 2, 2019, after the accused have spent 377 days in detention. The three accused were jointly charged on five counts. The counts were alternate charges, meaning once the accused are guilty on count one, the other four counts will not be considered. But if the accused are not guilty on count one, then the Judge will move the second counts and so on.
Returning with verdict after deliberation, the Chief of Staff, third Infantry Brigade who doubles as President of the Court Martial Board, Lieutenant Colonel Kerifa Kamara said, “Having met with the Board, we found the first accused, Captain Kamara and the third accused Abu Bakarr Jalloh guilty on count one which is conspiracy. The second accused, Samuel Conteh is not guilty on all the five count charges.”
In relation to the discovering of ammunition in a septic pit at the back of the Presidential Lodge, the Court Martial was constituted to hear a case of three former Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF) – Captain Patrick Edwin Kamara 1st accused; Samuel Conteh, Warrant Officer Class 1 (2nd accused); and Abu Bakarr Jalloh, Warrant Officer Class 2 (3rd accused), who were jointly charged on five counts.
Count one: Committing a civil offence [conspiracy to steal service property] contrary to section 72(1) of the Armed Forces Act 1961 as amended; Count two: committing civil offence [larceny by servant] contrary to section 72 of the Larceny Act of 1916; Count three: willfully damaging service property contrary to section 49(c) of the Armed Forces Act 1961; count four: willful neglect, causing damage to service property contrary to section 49 (d) of the Armed Forces Act 1961 ; and count five: conduct to the prejudice to the group order and military discipline, contrary to the RSLAF Act No. 34 of 1961 as amended. They pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The three military personnel have been in custody since June 20, 2018, but the first accused Captain Kamara escaped from the military detention facility at Wilberforce on Tuesday May 21, 2019.
In his summing up of the trial, the Judge Advocate Stevens said that the first accused did not take any document [initial receive voucher] to Joint Logistics Unit during back-loading. “This in itself is a massive and great indictment and probably, the first accused saw it coming that is why he is not here today.”
He added that there is nowhere in the evidence to show that the 3rd accused signed for ammunition. “But what propel him to have back-loaded ammunition which he does not signed for?” he asked.
He urged the Board to carefully return a verdict of not guilty against the 2nd accused for all the five count charges, adding that he did not see anything against him.
He urged the Board to return a verdict of guilty for the first accused in all five charges. “I see case against the first accused in all charges. He is a criminal and he most go to jail,” Justice Stevens emphasized. “I want him to serve jail, not because he is not in court today, but I know he will be arrested someday and go to jail.”
He said that the first accused is not accountable to anybody, adding that he was running his own army.
In his plea of mitigation, Defence Counsel for the third accused, Lawyer A. Koroma told the court to look at the totality of the evidence and give a lighter sentence to his client [3rd accused Abu Bakarr Jalloh].
Lawyer Koroma told this medium that he will appeal the ruling before the end of this week, adding that it is a procedure in the jurisdiction of the country that if a judgment is given in a lower court and you are not satisfy, you have every right to go to the higher court.