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Sylvia Blyden Dot Com

17 Garrison Street,
Freetown,
Sierra Leone.
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NEWS : Local News  

In Sierra Leone, Magistrate Court Asked to Discharge Sylvia Blyden
By Bintu Aminata Sesay and Augustine Samba
Jan 11, 2010, 17:42
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Publisher of Sierra Leones most widely-read newspaper, Awareness Times, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, might today be discharged by the presiding Magistrate of the Freetown Magistrate Court No. 1, Steven Conteh, on a charge of Publishing False News that caused a Security Threat in President Ernest Bai Koromas marital home. This assurance was given on Friday 8th January, 2010 when the matter was called.

On Friday last, Defense Counsel E.N.B Ngakui said he knows the Court to be a Court of Record and that at the prior adjourned date of December 16th 2009, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr. Oladipo Robin-Mason had faithfully promised that if he did not bring a witness to testify at the next adjourned date of January 8th 2010, the State would not object to the Defense Counsel making an application for the matter to be discharged. Lawyer Ngakui then reminded the Court that on several instances preceding that December 16th 2009 stated promise of the DPP, he had appeared in Court with no witness in tow to testify.

"And now that the DDP is not even in court nor his witness(es) present, the Defense is at liberty to expect a favourable response to us once again making an application to this Honourable Court for a discharge due to want of prosecution," the lead Defense Counsel told the over-crowded court. He also reminded the Court that the Prosecution was "yet to make a semblance of a prima facie case".

He maintained however, that if the Prosecution wished, after the due discharge, they can always bring back the matter to court, "whenever they find their witnesses"; and that they, (Defense) have no problem with that.

Magistrate Steven Conteh, in his summing up, recalled that indeed the DPP had made such a promise in open court but he proceeded to inform the court that he had received a telephone call from the DPP, a few minutes before the start of that days sitting informing him (Magistrate Steven Conteh) that he (DPP) would not be available but that he had made a telephone appeal for the matter not to be discharged but adjourned yet again.

This brought about loud murmurs from both the spectators and the seated Lawyers at the Bar. The seated Bar had some of the countrys most senior lawyers in attendance on that day. Many of them were visibly unhappy at the development and some of them openly said so.

To loud murmurs of approval from the seated senior lawyers as well as junior lawyers, the Lead Member of Sylvia Blydens Defense Team, Anthony Y. Brewa Esq. said: "It is shameful to know that nothing good has been done in the way of progress since this matter started. It is Magistrate Stephen Conteh who is presiding over this court. It is Magistrate Conteh who should control this Court and not telephone calls from the DPP. The Judiciary should not be subjected to mockery from the keen public observing these proceedings."

The prominent senior lawyer went on to say that it is not only the accuser that seeks justice, but that the accused can also seek the same; and that a Magistrate should use his/her discretion in deciding a matter regardless of who is on the other side.

In making his final decision, the presiding Magistrate Steven Conteh said that it is now clear that the DPP did not take the necessary steps to ensure that his witness(es) were available in court to testify but despite the foregoing and the strong arguments forwarded by the Defence Lawyers, he opined thus: "in the absence of a reply from the State Prosecution who is not here today, I hereby adjourn this matter but will most favourably consider the application for a discharge if the DPP fails at the next adjournment to bring in his witness or witnesses. This matter is now adjourned to Monday January 11th 2010."


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