After spending two weeks in detention at the Pademba Road Prisons, the former Chief of Staff , State House, Dr. Richard Konteh, Alie Suma and Leslie Peter Crosby, were yesterday put on Le1bn (one billion Leones) bail each by Magistrate Komba Kamanda of Court No.2 for allegedly conspiring to defraud the State.
Before the start of the matter, the entire High Courtroom had been filled by sympathizers, family members, employees of the accused, patiently waiting for the case to come up, so they will listen to the proceedings while OSD Officers stood in the court’s entrance, providing security by preventing other people from entering after the court had been filled. Even journalists were asked to provide identification before entering.
When the matter was mentioned, Magistrate Komba Kamanda read out his ruling on the preliminary objection raised by Counsel Roland S.V. Wright that the prosecution witness should not tender the letter that was copied to him as purported to be written by the second accused, Dr. Richard Konteh, stating that the subject matter of count two has to do with forgery, so any document that is about to be tendered as evidence, must be in the original form.
According to the Magistrate, the prosecution had laid the proper foundations for the tendering of such document and that there is nothing stopping them from doing so. He then ordered that the letter be tendered and formed part of the court exhibits.
During cross-examination by Counsel Julian Cole, representing the first accused Alie Suma, the witness Sennah Marah, Senior Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, denied being one of several people holding a series of meetings with President Ernest Bai Koroma on the ban of timber export, agreeing that exhibit ‘B’ which is the request letter from Timber Harvesters, Processers and Exporters Sierra Leone Limited, does not contain any number of containers to be exported and that the release of 30 containers sent to the Shipping Agencies was not the first, after the ban on timber export.
The witness further agreed that the Officers sent to represent his Ministry at the Quay are supposed to ensure that timbers for export are properly checked to ensure they meet the required compliance of the Ministry, as shipment of value-added timber will only be done after the release had been sent out, adding that the Ministry officials at the Quay had never reported about a situation of prospective case of none compliance in relation to export of timber.
Representing the second accused, Dr. Richard Konteh, Counsel Roland S.V. Wright, cross-examined the witness who maintained that the application of clearance on the issue was done on behalf of a corporate entity and not individual and that according to exhibit ‘H’ which was written by the Chief Director of his Ministry, states that the entity complies with thirty- containers requirement for export.
Before the adjournment, counsel representing the accused, renewed their bail applications having adopted their previous applications, maintaining that they have furnished the court with relevant case laws and in support they relied on section 79(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1965, as they have reliable sureties who are ready and willing to stand on their behalf.
In response to the bail application made by Counsel for defence, State Prosecution Monfred M. Sesay, disclosed that as a matter of law, bail is at the discretion of the Court, and as such, in the circumstance they are not opposing bail and relied on the Magistrate’s decision on the issue.
Magistrate Komba Kamanda said that, citing the case of Abraham B. Lavalie and nine others presided over by Justice M.A. Paul, even if the prosecution opposed to bail or not, he has the sole right to refuse or give bail, as all what the prosecution and the defence does is to assist the court with the necessary information on the matter, and ruled that the accused are put on bail in the sum of Le 1bn (one billion Leones) each with two sureties in like sum, who should be property holders in the Western Area and that the title deeds and travelling documents of the accused should be submitted to the Consultant Master and Registrar for approval of bail.
The matter comes up Tuesday 31st July 2014 for further hearing.
Upon hearing that pronouncement, sympathizers, family members and employees broke into loud jubilations and started singing different songs expressing happiness about the information, while others took to the streets singing and dancing, heading towards the eastern part of Freetown.
Friday July 11, 2014