By Sahr Eric George
The Organising Secretary of the All Peoples Congress (APC) party and Former Minister of Youth, Bai Mahmoud Bangura, has been directed to appear in court for the upcoming hearing. This decision follows his absence for the second consecutive time within eight days, attributed to an illness as reported by the defence lawyers, causing a significant setback in the ongoing trial involving Amadu Koita Makalu and eleven others. The group had their second appearance before Magistrate Santigie Bangura of Magistrate Court No 2 without any progress.
The accused individuals, including Amadu Koita Makalu, Mohamed Jalloh, Sergeant Mohamed Sallue Kamara, Ramatu Kamanda Conteh, Alimatu Hassan Bangura, Hassan Leigh, Mohamed Wurrie, Bai Mahmoud Bangura, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ibrahim Sesay, Tamba Yamba, Kabba Kamara, and Abdul Sorie Hassan Kamara, are facing trial.
Lead defence lawyer A. N. Sesay informed the court that Bai Mahmoud was still unwell and unable to attend court for the second time, presenting a medical report to support his claim.
In response to Sesay’s presentation of the medical report, A. G. M Bockarie, the lead prosecution lawyer for the state, acknowledged seeing the report but questioned how the defence lawyers obtained the original document of an accused person in police custody. Bockarie requested the defence lawyers to bring the author of the document to verify its authenticity.
“This accused person has not appeared before this court,” Bockarie emphasized, urging Magistrate Bangura to order Bai Mahmoud’s presence in court on the next adjourned date.
While the twelve accused individuals, including two women and ex-service officers, were arrested by the government for an attempted coup in Freetown on November 26, 2023, the prosecution is yet to formally charge them. Ady Macaulay, the defence lawyer for the third accused person, also requested that the magistrate order correctional centres to grant defence lawyers access to speak with the accused persons within their facilities.
Magistrate Santigie Bangura responded by ordering Bai Mahmoud to be present in court for the next adjournment, allowing the court to assess his fitness for trial. Additionally, he directed correctional centres to provide access for defence lawyers to communicate with their clients while in detention and emphasized that all accused persons must be adequately fed. He advised correctional officers to view accused persons as mere suspects until proven guilty by the court.
The next court hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 11, 2024. SEG/10/1/2024