*The State Indicts Kamarainba for Sexual Penetration*
By Lawrence Williams
Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray and Marion Arouni yesterday made their first appearance before Justice Samuel O. Taylor of the high court (Sexual Offences Model Court) at the main Law Court building on Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown.
The accused persons are charged with eight count charges of conspiracy contrary to section 43 (b) of the Sexual Offences Act (Act no.12 of 2012), sexual penetration contrary to section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012, as repealed and replaced by section 4 (a) (iii) of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act of 2019 (Act no.8 of 2019), among others.
Kamarainba is being tried on seven counts of conspiracy to commit an act of sexual penetration, intentionally meeting a child for sexual purposes, engaging in an act of sexual penetration with a child, among others. Marion Arouni is facing two count charges of conspiracy to commit an act of sexual penetration and aiding and abetting Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray to commit an act of sexual penetration of a child.
The indictment indicates that the offences were committed between 14th February to 31st March 2020 in two jurisdictions namely, Freetown in the Western Area and Kono in the Eastern Province.
Both accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges on the indictment.
*Application for Trial by Judge Alone:*
State Counsel Umu Sumaray made an application for the accused persons to be tried by judge alone pursuant to sections 144 (2) of the Criminal Procedures Act (Act no.46 of 1965) as repealed and replaced by section 3 of the Criminal Procedures (Amendment) Act of 1981 (Act no.11 of 1981).
Defense counsel Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai objected to the State’s application on grounds that his client, Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray, wants a jury trial. He based his application on section 146 (3) of the Criminal Procedures Act of 1965 and cited other legal provisions of law.
_“It is in the interest of justice that a man who is charged with such serious offences be tried by his peers,”_ lawyer Abdulai stated.
Counsel for the second accused, lawyer A.K. Koroma in his submission adopted the legal submission of the lead counsel for the first accused and reinforced his argument based on section 23 of the 1991 Constitution.
At this juncture, concerns arose from the prosecution’s side and the bench about the expediency of a jury trial.
Both lead defense counsels uphold their objection to a trial by judge alone but maintained that a trial by judge and jury can be expedient too if the State is so interested to expedite it.
Lawyer A.K Koroma referenced the just concluded treason trial and asked a rhetorical question: “If it can be done in that case, why not this?”
The State replied that it is for the same reason for a speedy trial and in the interest of justice that the prosecution made its application for a trial by judge alone.
The judge first acknowledged that the just concluded treason trial was concluded in record time and the court is not oblivious of that.
He then ruled that both accused persons be tried by judge and jury.
_“As both accused persons through their solicitors have invoked a constitutional provision seeking to be tried by members of their peers, this court hereby orders as at the next adjourned date a pool of jurors should have been ready to be empanelled for the progress of this matter,”_ Justice Taylor rules.
Defense lawyer E.S. Abdulai applied for bail for his client Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray.
He submitted that his client is a respected citizen, well known and has a stake in the political dispensation of Sierra Leone. He said the accused literary handed himself over to the police and has been in detention for twenty-nine days. He continued that the accused is not a flight risk and therefore has no intention of leaving the jurisdiction.
_“A man of his calibre will want to defend this matter to its logical conclusion and to clear his name. This means that he will make himself available as and when the court wants him,”_ he said.
The defense further argued that pre-trial detention should only be extended if the court has any belief that the accused will not make himself available; adding that, that has been demonstrated when he [Kamarainba] walked into the Criminal Investigations Department on 21 July to surrender himself to the authorities.
He further strengthened his plea for bail to be granted to his client on grounds that the accused will not interfere with prosecution witnesses noting that the principal witness(es) is/are already under police protection. He further emphasized that bail should be granted to the accused for the defense to have enough time to prepare for the case.
_“It will be almost impossible for the defense to adequately and sufficiently prepare in the absence of the accused. Therefore bail will be a lubricant in the engine of the defense,”_ Lawyer Abdulai submitted.
He also cited several provisions in the 2018 Bail Regulations and the Criminal Procedures Act to back up his submission.
Counsel for the second accused, A.K. Koroma also made an application for bail on behalf of his client. He noted that his client, Marion Arouni, is a primary care-giver with three children between the ages of four, fifteen and two years respectively. He said special considerations should be given to his client.
*Prosecution Response to Bail Application:*
The lead State Prosecutor, Umu Sumaray opposed the bail application of the defense team.
At this juncture, the defense objected to the prosecution’s opposition to granting bail to the accused persons. An argument as to whether the proper legal procedures were followed in respect to opposing or refusing bail under the 2018 Bail Regulations then ensued.
The judge said: _“At this juncture, since the defense counsel has observed that the affidavit opposing the bail application does not have the requisite NRA receipt and therefore cannot be said to have been filed, the court orders the prosecution to ensure that as against the next adjourned date (Wednesday 19 August 2020), on or before 1 P.M., the said affidavit is duly filed and served.”_
The judge concluded that, against that backdrop, the court cannot consider the accused persons’ bail. He then adjourned the matter to today to make a final determination on the bail application for the accused persons.
*© Fritong Post Newspaper – 19/08/2020*