THE DANIEL NBOMPA TURAY COLUMN!!!
I salute the JURY and Pallo’s DEFENCE TEAM, NOT President Bio or the Chief Justice!
The recent non-guilty verdict reached by the 12 man jurors in Pallo’s treason trial reflects the growing mass governance awareness in the average Sierra Leonean. As a people, it demonstrates our commitment to overcoming political intimidation and harassment with an indefatigable zest to hone justice in our fragile democracy. However, the rhythm of justice was continated when the Judge deliberately misplaced the Discretionary Previledge Rules in sentencing, by erroneously slamming the maximum penalty (I will deal with this in another piece) for two counts.
In a jury trial, the decision to convict is exclusively in the hands of the JURORS who are chosen in consultation with the accussed and/or his lawyer. The jurors are concern with ‘issues of facts’ while those of law are dealt with by the lawyers. The jurors listen to the arguments from both the prosecution and the defence while the judge moderate. After the prosecution and defence make their closing arguments, the judge then address the jurors on the issues of law raised, including the exiting laws, etc. Jurors then retire to a room and make a unanimous decision to convict. Any disagreement among jurors results in a non-guilty verdict. If the accussed is convicted, the judge, guided by ‘SENTENCING RULES’ read out the appropriate sentence.
President Bio can do nothing here. He has no capacity to influence a jury-trial in this 21st century Information Age. Non-jury trials where judges convict and acquit, would have naturally availed Bio a clear opportunity to influence the outcome by simply romancing with an integrity-judge…not in jury trial! Likewise the Chief Justice virtually had nothing to do after assigning the case to a judge whilst the Attorney General led the prosecution.
It would have very very unsafe for President Bio to attempt to bribe all the 12 jurors. It just require a rectitude personslity or an acquaintance of Pallo, or an APC person who is unwilling to mortgage his or her integrity whatever amount offered, then it would have becomes not only an INTERNATIONAL SCANDAL of grave magnitude but it’ll also amounts to contempt of court. SO THE PRESIDENT WAS TIED!!!
I know from day-one that it would be difficult to prove ‘mens rea’ (intent). Common sense won’t justify a James Bond with ten carteriages in a pistol will March to heavily equipped State House to shoot the President, except he is on a suicide mission. Conspiracy is out of the subject. The prosecution spectacle mirrored Pallo in a guiness world holder T-shirt for ‘one-man-conspiracy’. Dr. Abdulai Conteh, Joseph Kamara, and Andy Macauley succinctly articulated this reasonable-man test, refuted all weakling prosecution arguments, and convinced the jury that the prosecution has not proved it case.
Yet, with all the clear weak evidences and the potential below-the-bar representation in court, the Attorney General, Dr. Pricilla filed charges for treason. She must have briefed the President and assured him of sufficient evidence to prove the charge of treason. She knew very well from the facts of the case, it lack sufficient direct and circumstantial evidences to support a treason charge. Why should Priscilla lied to President Bio? It’s a complete waste of resources, precious time and energy. In a thriving democracy, somebody will loose a job for this national and international embarrassment. This reinforced the questioning of Priscilla’s competency to advise government on legal matters. For making such reckless and thoughtless decision to charged for treason, lying to the President, displaying a weak and comical representation in court , the super-hyper AG should be sacked.
Again, bravo to probity, uprightness, and empathy exuded by the jurors.The handing down of maximum sentences for the two convicted counts signaled that the judge should have handed the maximum death penalty and not life sentence, if the jury had returned with a guilty verdict.