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NEWS : Local News  

Judiciary Raps With Local Journalists in Sierra Leone
By Aruna Turay
Nov 24, 2008, 17:18
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Master and Registrar of the High Court of Sierra Leone, Mr. Elwyn Bailor on Friday 21st November 2008 invited local journalists to his Law Courts Building office for a tte--tte discussion. This was in the wake of recent newspapers reports that quoted the Sierra Leone Police to have expressed dismay with the Sierra Leone Judiciary; the latter was accused of being responsible for aiding escapes of criminals from court rooms and discharging of hard core criminals.

However, Mr. Bailor informed that on the contrary, it was the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) which should look inwards as to why so-called "hard core criminals" were being discharged.

"These hardcore criminals are getting released not as a result of connivance with anyone in the Judiciary but because of the ineptitude of the very Police now casting blame on the Judiciary," Mr. Elwyn Bailor asserted.

Elaborating further, the Consultant Master and Registrar, Justice Sarkodie Mensah revealed that it was not even correct for the Police to have used the term "release" as the alleged criminals were actually "discharged for want of prosecution" and not just released.

"After these criminals are charged to court by the police, the latter fail to provide witnesses even in the midst of several adjournments," she disclosed, adding that it is against the law to hold on to or detain suspects without witnesses. Justice Mensah also used the briefing as an opportunity to reiterate the Judiciarys independence. She emphasized that these suspects/criminals were, "never acquitted and discharged" but that they were "merely discharged on the basis of lack of prosecution", and that they are liable to be summoned at any time the Police can come up with witnesses who are prepared to testify against them.

Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in Charge of Professional Standards, SIS Koroma had earlier charged that the Judiciary had, "released over thirteen hardcore criminals now walking as free men and women in the streets, thus posing a serious threat for peaceful citizens".

It now appears that the AIG was grossly misinformed as to the real reasons why the criminals were out.


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