29th June, 2020
In today’s treason trial proceedings, Counsel for both sides flexed their muscles in what was clearly a ding-dong legal battle.
Honorable Justice Momoh Jah Stevens after ensuring that the Jury was fully constituted, asked the Defence to immediately commence their address of the Jury. Lead Counsel for the Defense, Dr. Abdulai Conteh, started his address with a solemn salutation of the Jury and a flowery appeal to their conscience.
He admonished the Jury not to allow their conscience to be distorted by speculations, conjectured claims and accusations.
Dr. Abdulai Conteh told the Jury that they are deciders of facts and evidence and not speculations. He furthered that they were confronted with a battle between truth and falsehood. He reminded the Jury that his client was standing trial on three count charges of treason and other related charges of perjury and unauthorized possession of firearms.
The lead Defence Counsel while addressing the Jury said that assassination placed in quotation marks simply implies that the Prosecution was not quoting itself but another person that was not known to the court.
He claimed that the Honorable Justice Momoh Jah Stevens never committed count three in his committal order, and never knew he was going to be trying the case himself.
Dr. Abdulai Conteh reiterated to the Jury that the case of Hamilton vs DPP emphasizes that it was for the Prosecution to prove beyond all reasonable doubt, the guilt of the accused. According to him, the Prosecution failed to adduce evidence before the Court that was enough to achieve the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, the Jury should not hesitate to acquit the accused in their return of “not guilty verdict”.
Dr. Abdulai Conteh told the Jury that his client’s possession of a brown bag with a gun at State House was what the Prosecution claimed to have amounted to treason. He further stated that his client was never at any point in time left alone with the President. According to him, there had also never been a one man treason trial in the history of Sierra Leone. So to suggest that his client was a James Bond to risk a deadly mission alone was deemed ridiculous.
Prosecution Counsel Adrian Fisher started his address of the Jury by outrightly stating that Dr. Abdulai Conteh had not literally said anything worthy of logical reasoning and common sense. In his words, nothing had been said by the lead Defense Counsel. Adrian Fisher told the Jury that he would first take them through the illogical claims by the Defense, which may not appeal to the common sense of the Jury. Fisher asked the Jury “who was fooling who?” Adrian Fisher in his address made a concrete analogy, stating that a person present in a kitchen when cooking needs no further proof to ascertain as to whether cooking took place. He went on to say that the Defense had created much heavy weather around the availability of the CCTV camera. Adrian Fisher asked the Jury to reason what was there that needed to be proven by the Defense, when their very client admitted in the witness box that he bypassed the Scanning Machine and Metal Detector. In a series of subsequent follow up questions, Adrian Fisher asked the Jury “Did the first accused deny not having a gun at that material time? Did the first accused declare the gun at the first gate of State House?, Was the gun loaded with its ammunition?”. In all of these questions, according to Adrian Fisher, the first accused never denied before the court.
Adrian Fisher further told the Jury in his address that the second witness for the Defense made clear to the court, the normal security routine by stating that his vehicle was thoroughly checked at the gate before he was granted permission to enter. Fisher went on to state that the second witness for the Defense even placed his notepad and pen on the conveyor belt of the Scanning Machine and picked it at the other end after passing through the Metal Detector. According to Adrian Fisher, Palo consciously bypassed the Metal Detector with a very porous excuse that he never wanted to trigger any alarm.
What finally made Adrian Fisher’s submission of guilt very clear, was when he told the Jury that it was in their presence he asked the first accused if he had a pen, a paper, a laptop or a book to suggest he was going for a meeting, the first accused denied not having any. According to Fisher, the first accused only had his gun and magazine with him. In his words, the first accused was invited to go and help kill COVID-19 but he went there with the sole aim to kill the President. Adrian Fisher tactfully took the Jury through count 1-16 of all the charges on the indictment, with enough supporting evidence.
Adrian Fisher closed his address by admonishing the Jury to display justice to the fullest as a way of showing their patriotism or love for their country.
Court sitting was adjourned to 30th June, 2020.