Defense Counsel for Avay Steven Perez the first accused in the ongoing trial of nineteen people allegedly related to the landing of a plane loaded with cocaine has withdrawn from the case.
In a letter to the presiding magistrate, dated 8th August, Melron Nicol-Wilson said he had withdrawn his representation since he could no longer “continue with the matter in view of the ongoing harassments, intimidation and other uncivil conducts levied against me”.
He told Awoko that he had come under “pressure from top government officials and Parliamentarians” among them “my friends”. He would not name names.He said they had forced him to withdraw from the case while some unknown persons had pelted stones at his house for three consecutive nights following his first appearance in Court for his client.
During the second court appearance of the accused, Nicol-Wilson and the Vice President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association Mustapha Turay led a complaint to the Chief Justice, Director of Public prosecution and the Minister of Justice over intimidation and embarrassment they allegedly faced in the hands of police officers.
Subsequently, Nicol-Wilson did not show up at the last proceedings but declined to give reasons beyond stating that he was only one out of sixteen lawyers in the present trial.
The human rights lawyer lamented that Sierra Leone had a long way to go in terms of promoting and protecting human rights.
He called on Government through the Human Rights Commission, to allocate a lot of resources to human rights education.
Meanwhile, the third Prosecution Witness in the ongoing trail of the alleged forceful landing of an aircraft at the Freetown International Airport, acting general Manager John Mathew Brima has told the court of how he allegedly received instructions from the then Transport and Aviation Minister, Kemoh Sesay not to allow the landing of the aircraft. Led in evidence by the DPP, Robin Mason, Brima said that at about 01:30 AM on 13 July, he woke up to respond to a call from one Thorlley Bangura from the airport’s Control Tower, informing him about an aircraft whose crew was communicating in a language he could not understand, and that the craft had no landing permit. He said he called up the Permanent Secretary and the then Transport Minster and informed them accordingly, adding that the then Minister instructed him not to allow the plane to land. By John Baimba Sesay