By Sahr Eric George
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a surprising development, Justice Monfred Sesay has decided to recuse himself from presiding over the murder trial of Mohamed Haroun Conteh, who stands accused of the murder of his school teacher, Ola Edward Johnson.
Justice Sesay addressed a 12-man jury, expressing his decision to withdraw from the case due to personal reasons and requesting that the trial be transferred to another High Court Judge.
The day began with the prosecution lawyer, Aruna Jalloh, applying for an adjournment. Jalloh informed the court that he had two witnesses but had not yet led them in testimony because he had not had prior discussions with them. He sought an adjourned date in order to adequately prepare his witnesses for their testimony.
Defense lawyer Teddy Koroma objected to the requested adjournment, but Justice Sesay overruled the objection, stating that the court could not compel the prosecution to proceed with their case against their will, except in situations where the prosecution was causing undue delays. In response to this ruling, Koroma withdrew his objection.
During the proceedings, Justice Sesay addressed Conteh, who was attired in a royal blue t-shirt and green trousers. He inquired if Conteh was satisfied with the maturity of the jury, making a sarcastic reference to their experience during his first appearance in court.
The judge advised Conteh that appearances only tell part of the story, not the whole, and that one should not judge people’s maturity based on their appearance.
In response, Conteh apologized to Justice Sesay for his previous remarks to the jury.
In his closing remarks, Justice Sesay reiterated his decision to step down from the case due to personal reasons. He ordered Conteh to be returned to custody at the Male Correctional Centre on Pademba Road in Freetown and dismissed the jury. SEG/9/11/2023