By Sahr Eric George
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Justice Komba Kamanda, presiding judge over the ongoing treason trials at the High Court in Freetown, has endorsed an arrest warrant for Bai Mahmoud Bangura, the eighth accused and former APC youth minister. The decision comes after Bai Mahmoud failed to appear in court, citing health issues.
Despite being ordered to appear in court on Thursday, Bai Mahmoud’s attorneys, led by Pios Sesay, informed the court during preliminary investigations at Pademba Road Magistrate Court No 2 before Magistrate Santigie Bangura that their client had not yet recovered from his illness, preventing his attendance. To substantiate their claim, the defence presented a medical report outlining Bai Mahmoud’s current health condition.
Although absent, Bai Mahmoud faced charges of Misprison of Treason and Harbouring, as stated in the warrant order presented by Detective of Police Inspector Abu Bakarr Kargbo, acting on behalf of state prosecutor Ahmed J. M. Bockarie.
Kargbo informed the court that he was unable to execute the arrest due to Bai Mahmoud’s severe health condition. “The nurse at the police hospital in Kingtom told me that his blood pressure had shot up, and he was unable to leave the hospital,” Kargbo explained.
State counsel Bockarie, leading the state prosecutors, applied for the endorsement of Bai Mahmoud’s warrant and suggested that, upon arrest, he should be transferred to the Male Correctional Centre at Pademba Road in Freetown for continued medical treatment.
In defence, Pios Sesay pleaded with Justice Kamanda to grant Bai Mahmoud bail on medical grounds, as allowed by law.
In his ruling, Justice Kamanda acknowledged arguments from both sides. He denied the prosecution’s application for the court to set a trial date, emphasizing that it was premature due to the absence of one of the accused persons.
However, the judge ruled that Bai Mahmoud’s arrest warrant should be enforced, and he should be transferred to the Male Correctional Centre at Pademba Road for hospitalization. Justice Kamanda added that the Correctional Centre authorities should take appropriate measures if they lack the necessary treatment facilities.
The matter was adjourned to Tuesday, January 16, 2024, awaiting further developments in Bai Mahmoud’s case. SEG/12/1/2024