Defence Lawyers for Haja Afsatu Kabba currently facing a 7-count indictment for corruption at the Law Courts have yesterday expressed "serious dismay" to Awareness Times that the Bundle of Evidence and Witness Statements that were finally delivered yesterday May 3rd 2010 to the Law Offices of Tejan-Jalloh & Dabor were delivered unsealed and unprotected by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). The materials were hand-delivered by a messenger who physically moved himself on the streets, from the ACC offices at Gloucester Street to the Walpole Street offices of Tejan-Jalloh & Dabor.
"It was delivered unsealed and I mean totally unsealed. We are gravely disappointed with the lax manner in which Anti Corruption Commission has handled the delivery of materials that deserve maximum protection as ordered by the High Court," one of the lawyers lamented adding that the sanctity of the anonymous nature of the evidence and witness statements could have become compromised with such lax handling.
The April 19th 2010 Court Order by Hon. Justice Browne-Marke for the identity of all thirteen formal prosecution witnesses to be kept hidden had stated in no uncertain terms that all possible efforts must be made to protect the identities of these thirteen witnesses. However, the Anti Corruption Commission courier who delivered the Witness Statements to the Lawyersí Offices, took them along unsealed and unprotected.
It will be recalled that on April 19th 2010, a totally unprecedented development in the entire annals of Sierra Leoneís History and Jurisprudence was recorded when Hon. Justice Browne-Marke gave approval for Haja Kabbaís trial to be conducted with all the formal prosecution witnesses having their identities kept secret and records of what they said in evidence that might identify them, to be expunged from all current and future court records.
Awareness Times has also been reliably informed that Haja Afsatu Kabbaís trial should commence tomorrow May 5th 2010 in front of Justice Browne-Marke alone and with no 12-man jury present because Attorney-General Serry Kamal, at the instance of the ACC, has made a formal application for Haja Afsatu Kabba to be tried by Judge Alone with no jury of her peers. This development, sources insist, is in total contravention of the wishes of the indicted woman who sources say lamented and wept bitterly when she learnt that she would not be tried by a jury of her peers but by Judge Alone. Sierra Leoneís Criminal Procedure Laws, as amended in 1981 under Siaka Stevens, gives an over-riding power to the Attorney-General to make such an application and regardless of the wishes of the indicted person, the Law calls for the application to be immediately granted.
Thus, only Hon. Justice Browne-Marke will listen to the 13 anonymous witnesses and come to a conclusion as to whether or not Haja Afsatu Kabba is guilty or innocent of the charges. No jury will make the decision as to the merits of the evidence to be presented away from the public eye. Only one Judge alone will listen and pronounce his judgement of Guilty or Not Guilty on the indicted embattled female politician.
The earlier indictment concerning Madam Lilian Ada Lisk, Fish Businesswoman, has been ordered to be put on hold by Hon. Justice Browne-Marke. In that indictment, Lilian Lisk had made a series of allegations that she had bribed Haja Afsatu Kabba; allegations that the erstwhile minister vehemently denies.
Meanwhile, several of the leading newspapers in Freetown including For Di People, Premier News and Independent Observer have reported that Hon. Justice Browne-Marke, before he was appointed as a Judge, acted as the Hired Retained Lawyer for Madam Lilian Lisk for a long time. Leading Sierra Leonean Newspapers also report that Madam Lilian Liskís son, Lawyer Kweku Lisk, is currently taking over the former Law Practise of Hon. Justice Browne-Marke. Newspapers are also reporting that Madam Glenna Thompson, the Head of Prosecutions at the ACC, whose team made the application for all the witnesses to be kept anonymous and requested the Attorney-General for a Trial-By-Judge-Alone application, prior to her taking up assignment at the Anti Corruption Commission, used to work with Kweku Lisk under the then Lawyer Browne-Marke (now Justice Browne-Marke) at the Law Firm of Browne-Marke & Co. operated from Bathurst Street.
The Afsatu Kabba Trial should start in earnest tomorrow May 5th 2010 in Freetown.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.