Top Sierra Leonean Judge at the Special Court Justice Rosolu John Bankole Thompson has given a dissenting opinion in the verdict of the two Civil Defence Forces leaders Moinina Fofanah and Alieu Kondewa. The two were yesterday Thursday convicted of war crimes and freed on acts of terrorism.
Moinina Fofanah was convicted on 4 counts (2, 4, 5, &7) while Alieu Kondewa was found guilty on 5 counts (2, 4, 5, 7 & 8).
Both were unanimously found not guilty by the three Judges (Benjamin Itoe, Pierre Boutet, and Bankole Thompson) on counts 1,3 and 6 which deals with murder, inhumane acts and acts of terrorism respectively.
In all the other five counts the decision by the judges were not unanimous.
In counts 2,4,5 &7 for Fofanah and 2,4,5,7 & 8 for Kondewa, Justice Thompson dissented with the guilty verdict.
Cameroonian born Presiding Judge Benjamin Mutanga Itoe also dissented on the not guilty verdict on count 8 given for Fofanah, which deals with child soldiers.
Justice Itoe announced the dissenting opinion saying “Honourable Justice Bankole Thompson in this opinion finds both Monina Fofanah and Alieu Kondewa not guilty and acquits them on all 8 counts.”
He explained “For the sake of clarity the chamber re-affirms the majority decision of this chamber which is a judgement of this court has found Fofanah to be guilty on counts 2, 4, 5, &7 and Kondewa to be guilty under 2, 4, 5, 7 &8 and has convicted them on those counts.”
The decision by Justice Thompson appeared to amuse even the lawyers on both sides.
Moinina Fofanah’s defence lawyer Arrow John Bockarie said he would have to read the judgement before making a comment.
Lawyer Bubuakei Jabbie who represented first accused Hinga Norman up until his death was more forthright.
He said “”Being a Sierra Leonean did not I think give any particular advantage as to analysis or judgement on the issues” adding “it is his well considered view whether he was a Sierra Leonean or not.”
Dr Jabbie maintained “I don’t think it is because he is a Sierra Leonean that he has given that verdict.”
Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp was also cautious preferring to wait for the written judgement and read it before commenting.
Justice Bankole Thompson was appointed by the government of Sierra Leone and is the only Sierra Leonean judge on the trials chamber. The other Sierra Leonean Judge Justice George Gelaga King is in the appeals chamber.