CHIEF NORMAN’S NEW LEGAL TEAM
Some where in the vast expanse of God’s universe, there must be a planet where judicial incompetence is a crime against humanity or at least a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Unfortunately Earth is not one such planet, otherwise the Ayatollah’s running the 100 million dollar so-called Special Court for Sierra Leone should be looking at life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On Tuesday, after making a brief appearance before the court without the benefit of counsel, Chief Hinga Norman and the rest of the world were told that he will not be allowed to represent himself before the court. Or at least that’s how most reasonable people thinking reasonably came to understand the court’s statement. Then came word that Chief Norman, in protest, will no longer cooperate with the court unless he was allowed to represent himself. The court announced that it will proceed with or without Chief Norman. The trial of Chief Hinga Norman began to look much like a Shakespearian tragedy in the making. There were flurries of domestic as well as international phone calls and delegations aimed at trying to “beig de Pa, le i nor do so”. Chief Norman refused to see anyone or receive calls from all but a handful of friends and family members.
After going through the court’s statement about eight hundred and fifty times or so, it has now been brought to attention of Chief Hinga Norman that when the court said he could not represent himself, the court did not really mean that he could not represent himself. What court official, Simone Monasebian, really meant when he said: “The judges today rejected Mr. Norman’s request to defend himself without counsel”? was that Chief Norman could represent himself provided he had a legal team to back him up. So every body together, on the count of three – one, two, three: WHY DIDN’T THE COURT JUST SAY THAT TO BEGIN WITH? This is the point where we re-visit Bill Shakespeare’s King Henry VI: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”. Or in the matter of Prosecutor versus Sam Hinga Norman, the first thing you do on the first day of the trial is fire all your lawyers. On the second day of the trial, you refuse to go to court and throw the whole bloody mess into chaos. On the third day of the trial, you go back to court, and announce a new legal team. Are we all thinking the Twelve Days of Christmas?
During Thursday’s appearance in court, the much anticipated opening statement by Mr. Norman never materialized. Instead he spent the whole morning trading legal jabs with Cameroonean jurist and President of the Trial Chamber, Benjamin Itoe, about Mr. Norman’s right or the lack thereof to represent himself without counsel. After this waste of precious time and public funds, the court adjourned until Monday.
So if it pleases the Chamber….. .the new defence team for Chief Norman is as follows: John Wesley Hall of Arkansas, slated to be the next president of the American Criminal Lawyers Assoc., Imran Rahman, of the United Kingdom, and Alimamy (Alim) Sesay of the District of Columbia. They will be assisted by Chief Hinga Norman’s personal legal assistant, Masah Sedia SamForay of Indiana University School of Law. Particulars of the members of the new defence team will be announced in due course. Chief Hinga Norman and the Hinga Norman Defence Fund would like to thank members of the former defence team, James Blyden Jenkins Johnston, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie and Adiatu Tejan-Cole for their untiring effort in the past fifteen months. We wish Jenkins, Sullay and Adiatu Godspeed.
The Defence Fund.