• January 15, 2024

27 Accused Military Personnel… Defence Council Seeks Fair Trial

27 Accused Military Personnel…  Defence Council Seeks Fair Trial
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By Alusine Fullah

The ongoing court martial proceedings has witnessed 3rd sitting today, 12 January, 2024. The charges against the 27 accused military personnel are 88. The charges encompass a spectrum of offenses designed to destabilize the state, including mutiny, failure to suppress mutiny, aiding the enemy, communicating with the enemy, stealing of public or service property, fraudulent misapplication of public or service property, and the gravest charge of murder. The presiding for this trial is Mark Ngegba. He is serving as Judge Advocate.

 

During the sitting, the prosecution council made a succinct submission on the aftermaths of November 26 failed coup. According to the prosecution council, the state/ court should do all what it takes to adjudicate just justice to the accused persons for the state to be much safer. On the side of the defence council, one of the representatives, Lawyer Ady Marculey noted that while the court is seeking for several evidences the court should do so with fairness and transparency.

 

The first witness for the 27 accused military personnel Lieutenant Colonel Bockarie Marrah has testified in court that know the 27 accused military personnel to be members of the Armed Forces in Sierra Leone. Lieutenant Colonel Bockarie Marrah is in charge of keeping all records for the military personnel in Sierra Leone. When the court put it to him whether he has names/ official records for the 27 accused persons, he answered in affirmation.

 

During the trial, one of the lawyers from the defence council submitted for his client, the 17 accused, SL 909 Charles J.M Yamba of five battalion that he is not guilty of all the charges that have been brought against him. He said: “My client, there is no point in time did he participated in the planning of 26th November, 2023 attempted coup…my client is patriotic Sierra Leone and he is here to plead not guilty…” also, the third accused has also pleaded not guilty.

 

Before calling on a close door trial that lasted half an hour, the court invoked the Military Act of 1961 section 91 and 92. Section 91 of the above act vividly states that the general public should have access to public hearing to military proceedings. However, in the case of security threats and information that has to do serious security concerns, section 92 of the Military Act of 1961 in Sierra Leone gives an exception for the presence of the general public in such military proceedings. Sticking to section 92, during the trail, the general public including journalists were asked to wait outside. The matter has been adjourned to the 17th January, 2024.

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