Defence counsels for the two Civil Defence Forces (CDF) Special Court indictees, Moinina Fofana and Alieu Kondewa, yesterday in their sentencing pleas submitted to the court that they would recommend jail sentences of four and three years respectively.
In his submission the defence counsel for the second accused, Steven Powels, said his client did not plan or instigate any of the war crimes in the indictment.
He told the court that the CDF attacks were directed at the RUF and AFRC who had various villages and chiefdoms under their control as the CDF were fighting for the restoration of democracy; and that they were engaged in those actions to restore the democratically elected government.
Steven Powels further submitted that his client, Moinina Fofana, did take part in the peace building process in the country.
The defence counsel also submitted that his client accepted crimes committed by the CDF and that he deeply regretted the unnecessary sufferings of civilians in the country.
On the issue of the court, the defence counsel said “Mr Fofana wholeheartedly accepts the jurisdiction of the court and has profound respect for the rule of law.”
Pleading for a lighter sentence, the defence submitted to the chamber that a 30-year sentence, which had been asked for by the prosecution, was inconsistent with the Trial Chamber.
“And therefore we are employing you to impose the right sentence of four years or less as this will enable Fofana to contribute to peace building in the country,” he noted.
Charles Margai, representing the third accused Alieu Kondewa, submitted that the war for which his client was in the court had been described as the most brutal, and that it was only through the intervention of the CDF that things changed.
He also told the court that if his client received a heavy sentence, this would serve as a deterrent for other civil militia to defend the country during war.
For the court not to act in vain, Charles Margai, said he would want the chamber to give a sentence of three years to his client as he had already spent four years in detention.
“If my client had not spent such time in detention I would have asked for seven years but I don’t want the court to act in vain so I am asking for three years,” he admonished.
In their argument, Joseph Kamara who submitted on behalf of the prosecution said the sentences should be seen to deter people from engaging in hostility, and that it should not be seen also as a form of revenge but that they were seeking punishment for crimes committed by the accused.
Mr Kamara said none of the accused had shown remorse for the crimes they committed and that they did not plead guilty to the charges as this would have helped the court and saved witnesses’ time. The senior attorney said although the second accused was not present when certain crimes were committed, he had effective control over the Kamajors as “Fofana played a significant role in the CDF as he received reports from various chiefdoms even before they reached late chief Hinga Norman.”
Kondewa, he went on, was charged with the responsibility of initiating civilians into the Kamajor society and that no Kamajor would go to fighting without Kondewa’s blessing.
On the issue of sentencing, Joseph Kamara submitted that the judges should look into the gravity of the offence and the aggravating factor “so we are asking for a sentencing of 30 years each for the accused including time spent in detention.”
Asked by Justice Benjamin Itoe whether they had anything to say the second accused said he had nothing to say other than what his counsel had submitted to the court. Alieu Kondewa, in his statement, apologized to the people of Sierra Leone and thanked the judges and prosecution team for their work. He explained that his real name was Alieu Musa and Alieu Kondewa was a nickname but that he had accepted it as it was the name by which he was now known.
Mr Kondewa said he did not mean any harm for the people of this country, as his child and siblings were also killed during the war. The native medicine he used to administer during the war, he noted, was a revelation from God to give to people who wanted to save their lands from the rebels.