By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
It was a very touching moment in and out of the Courtroom at the Special High Court in Port Loko for the bulk of those that were following the proceedings in the matter of the State versus Mohamed Kabba alias ‘Sisco’ and 7 others. Although the matter was determined on a Saturday and most of the friends, relatives and well wishers of the Accused Persons could not avail their presence, yet it was uptight for the Jurors who were required to come up with a verdict on the matter. Apart from the State and Defence Counsels who hardly had anything to loose, it was equally tensed for the Presiding Judge whose mandate was to deliver the Sentence. Even the most diehard Accused Persons could not bear their grief especially when offered the opportunity to tell the Judge what they would like him do before the sentence was passed on them. The Majority of them burst in tears as they pleaded with the Judge to tamper justice with mercy.
The Presiding Judge – Hon. Justice S.O Taylor himself said, it was with a heavy heart that he pronounced the sentence on the 7 Convicts for which the Jurors returned a verdict of guilty. These were part of 8 Persons accused for the murder of one Haja Humu Jalloh – 47 year old women who died after some armed robbers had ransacked her residence at Rotifunk in the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom. Police was able to arrest a total of 8 People. These were – Mohamed Kabba aka ‘Sisco’, Alhaji Yusif Sankoh aka ‘Paw-Paw’, Alpha Yayah Wurrie, Ibrahim Conteh alias ‘Worlof’, Alimamy Kargbo alias ‘Catch Fire’ Santigie Mansaray, Alhaji Kamara alias ‘Bomba and Mohamed Jalloh alias ‘ Ezekiel’. They were subsequently arranged before Hon. Justice S.O Taylor on a 3 Count charge of Conspiracy, Murder and Unlawful Possession of Small Firearm with regards the death of Haja Humu Jalloh. The third Count was specifically for the 1st. Accused – Mohamed Kabba aka ‘Sisco’ whose possession the Small Firearm was found.
These Accused Persons were being defended by Lawyers Mohamed Kori and Randy Bangura of the Legal Aid Board of Sierra Leone, while the matter was prosecuted by the State Counsel / North – Lawyer Aruna Jalloh. A total of 6 Prosecuting Witnesses testified including the Scene of Crime Officer and the Pathologist – Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma. They said in their separate testimonies that, the 47 year old Woman did not die a natural death and that the finger prints obtained at the scene of crime do bear the features of all the Accused Persons in the dock. It was therefore unbelievable to hear the Foreman of the Jurors who said the verdict was unanimous that the 5th. Accused – Alimamy Kargbo alias ‘Catch Fire’ was not found guilty of any of the charges levied against him.
One of the many things that run to mind is the requirement to become a Juror. The doubt of many is often based on how knowledgeable are some of these Jurors in the Official Language of the Court which is English. Most of those that were in Court would not actually tell if the majority of the empanelled Jurors could comprehend and properly digest the address of the Judge before they were retired for a verdict on the matter. It would appear some were either day dreaming or lost in the verbiage of the Bench. The common belief in learning is that Learners will not bother to ask questions to their Tutors when the subject is properly understood. But was that the case with these Jurors whose bulk could hardly administer the oath and who would be apparently fight a nap while the Factual Witnesses were testifying? Perhaps it was the normal for African Chiefs who pretend to be asleep when crucial matters were being deliberated in their Court – Barays. Even though their decision cannot be questioned, yet it was pretty difficult for the ordinary man to understand how the 5thAccused in this Matter was not found wanting if the narratives of the Witnesses were anything to go by. Interestingly, the rest of the Accused Persons were not that fortunate as Jurors returned a guilty verdict against all the remaining 7 Persons.
In a way of mitigation, the Defence pleaded with the Judge to tamper justice with mercy. Lawyer Mohamed Kori submitted that the Convicts are pretty young Sierra Leoneans who were determined to refrain from all forms of criminality and ready to transform to productive Nationals if given the chance. He said the prescribed penalty for such offences will lead to untold sufferings for the families of the Convicts adding that the aspect of Sentence is entirely in the hands of the Honourable Judge. But Hon. Justice S.O Taylor was not very much convinced and therefore unable to change his mind. He said even though it is with a heavy heart that he would be making his pronouncement, yet the Law is the Law and could not do otherwise. He therefore sentenced the 1st. Convict – Mohamed Kabba alias ‘Sisco’ to 12 months on Count 3 – which is Unlawful Possession of Small Firearm. Hon. Justice Taylor went on to pass sentence to each of the 7 Convicts to 8 years imprisonment for the offence of Conspiracy. He further sentenced all of them to death by hanging as he prayed for their Souls to rest in Peace.
In another development, Justice Taylor also sentenced Nabie Sesay to 4 years imprisonment after he was found guilty for the offence of Sexual Penetration adding that the time already spent in detention should be taken into consideration. This was as a result of the plea of mitigation by Lawyer Randy Bangura. He based his submission on the appeal that the Convict did not know the consequence of his action which he has now regretted. Lawyer Bangura said the Convict is a young man that has promised to refrain from such an offence and become a useful Sierra Leonean if given another opportunity. Three other Persons – Mohalim Conteh alias ‘White Boy’, Mohamed Kamara alias ‘Koko – Di – Bongo’ and Ibrahim Bangura aka ‘Old Boy’, who were on a 3 Count Charge of Conspiracy, House Breaking and Larceny, have all been acquitted and discharged .They were accused of breaking and entering the dwelling residence of one Mohamed Kamara and did steal properties valued at over 15 Million Leones. The incident occurs at Lungi in the Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom on 2nd. August 2017. Although 4 Witnesses testified in this matter, the Judge said the Prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The Special High Court Holden in Port Loko which commenced over 2 weeks ago, had a pile of about 150 Cases to determine and is expected to resume later this week, when judgment shall be delivered on 2 more Murder matters…..