As Defence Address Court… Treason Trial Folding Up

By Mariama Hamadi

Defence Counsel representing the 2nd Defendant, Rtd. Col Saa Anthony Sinnah in the ongoing treason trial, Roland Wright has in his address before Justice Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens yesterday, 29th June, 2020, admonished the jurors that his client’s life is at stake and that the Jury has to decide between what is truth and what is falsehood or whether they meant good or evil for his client.

He argued that the Prosecution charged the 1st Defendant with the offence of treason which, according to him, suggests that the 1st Defendant wanted to assassinate the President.

The Defence Counsel furthered that there is no law that states that assassinating the President is treason. Such an offence, he said, is murder and not treason and therefore submitted that at this point, the matter should come to an end as, according to him, the Prosecution cannot establish what treason actually is.

The Prosecution, he said, has cooked a food that it cannot eat because it is tasteless but now wants the jurors to eat it.

“Even if a person assassinates the President, it is still not treason but murder,” he argued whilst defining treason as overthrowing the entire government which, he said, the Prosecution failed to establish.

Addressing the court further, the Defence Counsel said the 1st Defendant went to State House, stopped at the gate, had his name ticked, proceeded inside, bypassed the scanner but approached the reception desk and handed over his bag that contained his Gluck-17 pistol to the security personnel and was allowed to proceed upstairs.

According to him, there is no evidence in court that the 1st Defendant was instructed to have his bag scanned or to pass through the metal detector. Lawyer Wright furthered that three of the Prosecution Witnesses had testified in court that it was one Staff Sergeant Gima that intercepted the 1st Defendant and instructed him to surrender his bag for scanning. Continuing, he said, Staff Sergeant Gima in his testimony told the court that he saw the 1st Defendant talking to the security personnel. The Defence, he said, could not tell who among the prosecution witnesses was telling the court the truth as, according to him, the testimony of one witness contradicts that of the other.

Speaking further, the Defence Counsel said it would have been easier for the court if the Prosecution would have produced the CCTV footage of what actually transpired between the 1st Defendant and security personnel at State House on the 19th March, 2020. That, he said, would have ended that the matter long ago. The Prosecution, the Defence Counsel said, refused to produce the footage which would have clearly shown what exactly transpired because what was alleged was untrue.

The treason charge against the 1st Defendant, he said, was a calculated ploy by certain individuals who, he said, never wanted the President to invite the 1st Defendant to State House for a meeting that had to do with the fight against Coronavirus outbreak in the country.

At the reception desk, he said, the 1st Defendant was asked to proceed upstairs because the security personnel were satisfied with him after he had declared his weapon, only for Col Kposowa to approach him with his brown bag after an hour.

Addresses the jurors, he said, his client, the 2nd Defendant, Sahr Anthony Sinnah was charged with the offence of abating and procuring which, he said, are two different things. He said the Prosecution alleged that the 2nd Defendant issued a license to the 1st Defendant within a day but argued that it is not possible for a license to be issued to a person in one day because, according to him, there are procedures and processes required before a license is issued to a person. The recipient of the license, he said, is required to fill a medical form which is to be signed by a medical doctor. This process, he argued, takes more than a day.

The Prosecution, he said, refused to sate the difference between applying for a new license and that of renewing it, stating that one of the prosecution witnesses, Haja Fatmata had testified that if a person had gone through the procedure of licensing a weapon he or she no longer goes through the same procedure when renewing it. That testimony, he said, was corroborated by that of the Commissioner of Small Arms Commission in court.

The 1st Defendant, he said, went to the Commission for renewal. This, he said, was what the Prosecution failed to establish, adding that the witness, Haja Fatmata had testified in court that it is when she is satisfied that all process is completed, that she stamps the file and submits it to the Commissioner and that it is only in the absence of the Commissioner that she would have to submit it to the Deputy Commissioner for subsequent issuance of the license.

The Defence Counsel continued that according to the Commission’s Act, if the Commissioner is absent, the Deputy Commissioner takes over. He therefore submitted that nothing illegal was done by the 2nd Defendant, adding that the Commissioner himself had stated in court that he relied on his Deputy to step in his shoe whenever he is out of the country. The 2nd Defendant, he said, was charged with abating treason for merely doing his work, adding, “my client is not suppose to be in the dock for performing his work dutifully and he has served his country diligently to the rank of Coronel and has served as Deputy Commissioner for the Small Arms Commission for the past twelve years without problem,” he argued.

On the issue of what is a public place, Lawyer Wright said the Prosecution does not even know what is a public place is when it referred to State House as a public place. A public place, he said, is where people move up and down freely but that State House is not a public place but a restricted place.

He admonished the Jurors to think well before returning verdict on his client as, according to him, the punishment for treason is death sentence. “Mortal-man life noto sardine,” he told to the jurors, whilst pleading with them to look carefully at the evidence before the court.

Addressing the court on behalf of the 3rd Defendant, Prince George Hughes, Lawyer Amadu Koroma said throughout the trial there was no evidence that touched the 3rd Defendant. He however referred to State Prosecutor Adrian Fisher’s closing address to the court as ridiculous when he (Fisher) stated that if the 3rd Defendant would not have stood as referee for the 1st Defendant to license his pistol, the 1st Defendant would not have taken a loaded weapon to State House. He furthered that looking at all the evidences, the 3rd Defendant has no business in the dock. Lawyer Koroma said, in count twelve, his client was charged together with the 2nd Defendant with the offence of abating and that in count thirteen, he was charged with making false statement on oath contrary to Section 31 of the Perjury Act 1911. He argued that both counts should be dismissed because they cannot charge both defendants with the same counts as they performed different duties on different dates when obtaining the license. He furthered that both witnesses from the Commission did not state in court that his client made false statements on oath whiles serving as referee for the 1st Defendant. Lawyer Koroma said, “all what the Commission wanted to know was whether the 3rd Defendant knows the 1st Defendant for a period of ten years.”

The Defence Counsel for the 1st Defendant concluded by reminding the court that at the start of the trial the Attorney General told the court that the Prosecution had witnesses that would prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. He said, the Prosecution brought in thirteen witnesses but that none of them had nothing to say about his client. This, he said, shows that the Prosecution has woefully failed to prove any guilt against his client, and therefore appealed with the presiding Judge and jurors to acquit and discharge his client.

The matter stands adjourned for today, Wednesday, 1st July, 2020 for summing up and for the jurors to retire and return verdict.