At the Siaka Stevens Street High Court in Freetown on Thursday 14th November 2019, 18-year-old Osman Kamara was sentenced to death by hanging after the Jury found him guilty of murder. The allegation was that the convict murdered 22-year-old James Alieu Bangura during a fight over a stick of ‘ash’, a drug said to be the remnants of cannabis sativa. The incident took place at Alousa, a night club along Guard Street in Freetown on 2nd January 2019. Prior to the judgement the State prosecutor Adrian Fisher in his address to the Jury Panel urged them to return a verdict of guilty against the accused. He stated three parameters that he said he wanted the Jury to note: it was not disputed that the deceased was stabbed; the accused did not deny it; and the stabbing led to the death of the deceased. Fisher reminded the Jury of the testimony of the 1st witness, Obai Kargbo in which he told the court that the deceased told him he cannot survive the stab wound. The counsel described the killing as a senseless one stating that violence was the accused way of enforcing his will. The counsel further argued that, to point to the accused state of mind, he did not help the deceased. Fisher said the accused instead ran. The counsel questioned why the accused ran. He also referenced the testimony of the Government Pathologist, Dr Simeon Owizz Koroma, in which he said the death of the 22-year-old was homicidal. The convict in his defense had claimed that the deceased provoked him calling him ‘Tolo Ebola’.
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The counsel said that was a pack of lies. Fisher said, “to show that the accused was lying, he said he stabbed the deceased on the chest”. The evidence according to Fisher, showed otherwise. On the other hand was the defense counsel, Cecelia Tucker from the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board. Tucker urged the Jury Panel to return a verdict of not guilty. The counsel argued that provocation can be used as a defense in murder. She referenced the testimony of the police investigators where he said the accused told him he was persistently provoked by the deceased. She urged them to examine the fact laid before them. She added that the killing was not done intentionally even though the deceased was stabbed. Prior to the verdict from the jury panel, Justice Sesay advised the panel to reach their verdict without emotion despite the distressing nature of the case. He defined murder according to the law and stated that the elements they must consider were: whether there was killing, whether the victim died within a year and a day, and whether there was malice afore thought. He said confession was a self corroboration pointing to the confessional statement made by the accused. He also noted that the accused was sufficiently identified. After the Judge’s summing up and guidance as to the law relating to the allegation, the Jury Panel retired to a private room for ten minutes and then returned with a unanimous verdict of guilty against the accused. Throughout the proceedings, the 18-year-old sat quietly in the prisoners’ dock. He wore an old white polo shirt with old dark blue tattered jean trousers. Justice Sesay asked him to stand up. As he did, the Judge pronounced that he was sentenced to death by hanging. The prison officers immediately handcuffed him and walked him out of the dock as he burst into tears.
By Edna Browne-Dauphine
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