The trial of the suspects in the criminal matter of an illegal landing of a plane full of cocaine into Sierra Leone has finally come to a close yesterday at the High Court in Freetown. The marathon session that saw Defence Lawyers address the Court to plead their clients’ innocence, ended at a few minutes before 10pm last night. The matter now awaits judgment by the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Nicholas Browne Marke.
It will be recalled that the matter had initially started with an eight count charge brought against an initial 19 suspects in the lower courts. These 19 suspects who were being tried by Presiding Magistrate Deen Tarawalie were then joined by an additional three suspects namely, Ebenezer Macauley, Ibrahim Mohamed Manley and Mohamed Sannoh. On Friday 26th September 2009 three additional suspects, Alimamy Kabia, Patrick Johnson and Mohamed Musa Kamara were charged for the same conspiracy to land the cocaine laden plane. This brought the number of people facing charges in front of Magistrate Deen Tarawalie to 25.
On 5th December 2008, the matter was leapfrogged into the High Court via a Section 136 Application that was granted by Justice Browne Marke who was then assigned the substantive matter. On Monday 22nd December 2008, Alusine Kamara, Bankole Kamara, Fatmata Bangura and Obai Kamara who were standing before Court No. 1 on Preliminary Investigations into the cocaine saga were discharged following a recommendation by Director of Public Prosecution on grounds that he had no evidence against them.
Again on Wednesday 7th January 2009, Justice Browne Marke discharged the 7th accused person in the ongoing cocaine trial, Martha Pineros. Thus, the rest of the suspects have been continuing their trial until the prosecution finished its case early this month. At the end of the prosecution’s case, Defence Lawyers made No-Case submissions which saw Lawyer C.F. Edwards and Lawyer Easmon Ngakui’s clients, set free on some or all of the charges brought against them. As a result Badara Allieu Tarawalli, initially charged with conspiracy was set free on Monday 16th March 2009 whilst Ibrahim Manley had one of his two count charges dropped against him.
Yesterday’s legal addresses by Defence Lawyers thus ended the close of a legal chapter in Sierra Leone’s history and also notched down what could possibly be a precedent in the history of criminal prosecutions in Sierra Leone with the marathon length of yesterday’s proceedings.
Reason for the marathon uninterrupted session has been proffered to be of a security nature. Many citizens have stated that it would be good for the cocaine matter to be speedily dealt with so the country could have one less security threat to think about. Other citizens especially members of APC Port Loko, APC Northern Province and APC Western Area branches have expressed happiness that the cocaine matter has come to a close before the much speculated APC National Convention due to start within next four weeks in Sierra Leone.
According to Defence Lawyers who spoke to this presshouse last night, Justice Nicholas C. Browne-Marke has promised to write and have ready his full judgment in the cocaine matter within the next four weeks.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.