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Sierra Leone News: At Court Martial…Judge overrules Prosecution

Some of the accused along the corridor of the CourtDuring the sixth day of the ongoing Military Court Martial, while the defence counsels were absent, the prosecution made an application to the bench for the proceedings to continue.
The lead prosecutor Gerald Soyei in his four point submission in court yesterday stated why the Judge Advocate should allow for the proceedings to continue. Firstly he argued that two of the prosecution witnesses were present in court. He furthered that “justice is a two edged sword in that usually when the prosecution appears to waste time, the defence usually make explosive applications to discharge the accused persons.”
He added that “often but for the legal patience exercised by the bench, the bench will inevitably discharge the accused persons.” Further he argued that as the lawyers are absent, the prosecution can invoke their right to proceed in the absence of the defence.
Secondly he maintained that they [prosecution] wish to proceed in the interest of justice because justice is not only designed for the accused but also for the prosecution.
The third grounds why he said the bench should continue with the proceedings is that “any objectionable evidence which might arise, the judge appreciating the period of detention in respect of the accused persons will be acting in the interest of justice to allow evidence to be led. He urged the judge that in the absence of the defence lawyers without reasonable cost, (the judge) should allow the trial to commence.”
The fourth submission made by the prosecution was that evidence can be led and cross examination be done later as the judge had the power to reconsider the admissibility of evidence at any stage before judgments summing up.
Soyei further urged that if the judge is not convinced to grant the application he should send notices of hearing to all defence counsels as he is anxious to start and he wants the accuse themselves to know that the prosecution does not want to waste time.
In his ruling the Judge Advocate Otto O. During said in as much as he has noted and found out that the point made by the prosecution are proper, but that “at this stage I am not going to allow prosecution to start. This matter is a very serious one and the accused have to be represented in every proceedings to ensure fair play during the trial.”
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday 30th April 2014.
Defence counsel Robert B. Kowa representing the 14th accused S.L 1087 Captain Prince Sesay disclosed to Awoko that they were informed that the lawyers representing the 1st to 13th accused persons will not attend since they have unresolved issues with the Ministry of Defence.
Obviously he said “that will stultify the proceedings simply on the facts that if evidence is led by prosecution I will be constrained to cross examine, and this will be unfair to the other accused persons since their lawyers are absent.             Thursday April 24, 2014

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