Wednesday September 21, 2005

Reality returned to the world of Chief Hinga Norman yesterday as his War crimes trial resumed  with oral arguments from his lawyers who have filed a “No Case ” submission . Chief Norman has been  one of the subjects of a sensational  battle for supremacy within the troubled ruling  Sierra Leone People’s Party .

Chief Norman filed a law suit in the Sierra Leone Supreme Court in a bid to torpedo the just-held SLPP Delegates Convention, lost it and decided to form his own political party to fight the SLPP  in the 2007 General Elections. But reality returned yesterday to remind the former Minister of Internal Affairs that he is still an indictee , being tried for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Hinga Norman’s Spokesman during his trial and political campaigns, Rev. Alfred Saforay sent in the following report about yesterday’s session in court :

Motion for Acquittal


The Defence in the matter of Prosecutor versus Sam Hinga Norman today made a no-case submission along with a motion for acquittal for Chief Hinga Norman. In his submission, Chief Defence Counsel for Mr. Norman, Dr. BuBuakei Jabbi asked the court to dismiss all charges against his client on the grounds that the Prosecution has not provided sufficient grounds to try his client.


Responding, Trial Chamber President, Justice Pierre Boutet, indicated that the case was far too complicated and that the Chamber needed time to consider Jabbi’s motion for acquittal.  If the court grants Dr. Jabbi?s request, it may elect to dismiss any or all charges against Mr. Norman if it decides that the prosecution?s evidence is insufficient to convict Mr. Norman.


In addition to Chief Norman, former CDF Director of War, Moinina Fofana and former High Priest and Chief Initiator, Dr. Alieu Kondewa, face eight charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as other serious offences under Protocol II of the Geneva Convention and Additional Protocols.  The Prosecution rested its case in July 14, 2005. Following the judges? rulings on Dr. Jabbi?s motion for acquittal, the Defence?s case will commence, if the judges find that there are sufficient grounds to proceed.


Meanwhile, Mr. Norman continues to maintain that he has never been properly indicted and asked to take a plea of guilty or not guilty.  As such, he has no case to attend to before the so-called special court for Sierra Leone.  The case proceeds without him as it has since November 2004.  Cameroonian jurist, Justice Benjamin Mutanga Itoe, in a separate and dissenting opinion on the issue of consolidated indictment, ruled in Mr. Norman?s favour.  But Sierra Leonean jurist, Bankole Thompson and Canadian, Pierre Boutet, both ruled against Norman.  The Appeals Chamber was vague on the issue but appeared to have agreed with Mr. Norman without giving him the relief he sought ? immediate dismissal of the case.


The motion for acquittal following the Prosecution?s case is normally a routine and is generally reviewed and dismissed immediately.  The three judge panel this time has postponed the case indefinitely while they consider Jabbi?s motion.


It is the second time this month that Jabbi and his client have tied up the judicial system in Sierra Leone.  Recently, it was in the matter of Sam Hinga Norman against the SLPP when Norman?s case before the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone sent the ruling SLPP into a nose dive forcing them to cancel and then resurrect the party?s biennial Delegates? Convention.  This time, it is the UN-backed special court which now has to deal with the convoluted arguments by former Prosecutor, David M. Crane that appears to be on the line.


Crane quit the court in June without a single conviction after sparring with Norman for two years.  Shortly after Crane, Chief of Defence, Simmone Monssabien, resigned from the court.  Last week, another of Norman?s nemesis, Registrar and Grand Ayatollah of the court, Robin Vincent, resigned.  The charade continues.


Alfred SamForay,

Hinga Norman-CDF Defence Fund

& The Sierra Leone Working Group.

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