The five judges of the Appeals Chambers of the Special Court on Wednesday this week, handed down judgment on two CDF accused Moinina Fofana and Alieu Kondewa, who had been convicted on 4 and 5 counts respectively, by the trial chamber and sentenced to serve 6 and 8 years jail terms respectively. But the two accused persons appealed their sentence.
The two were arrested on the 29th May 2003 and yesterday marked their 5th year in detention. The Appeals chamber‘s judgment surprised the accused their relatives and even the defence lawyers when they substantially increased the sentences of the two accused persons. The jail terms for Moinina Fofana was increased from 6 years to 15 years and Alieu Kondewa from 8 years to 20 years.
Our reporter Saidu Bah went around the streets of Freetown to sound the views and comments of ordinary Sierra Leoneans over the increase in sentence of the two CDF accused persons.
So far, I believe that the Special Court in Sierra Leone is a professional body and that what they have got from all evidences they have gathered it is their mandate to go into the judgment they have passed, as a peaceful citizen we are all trying to consolidate the hard won peace.
But I am kindly appealing to the Special Court to pardon the indictees and consider a soft punishment on them wherein they can serve the previous five and six years sentences respectively, despite the crimes they committed against humanity.
To my own opinion, I think this judgment is selective justice because increasing the jail term of the CDF indictees can not be understood considering the previous judgment by the Court. It is true that they might have committed crimes during the war, but the court must understand these people (CDF) fought for the restoration of Tejan Kabbah and democracy.
I want the special court to know that giving the indictees a long jail term cannot help those affected by the war, but this judgment is unbelievable and we the people are against it.
As a retired teacher I am concerned with discipline, law and order, it is the best way possible to have peace and justice working simultaneously to ensure crimes committed by individuals are brought to book so that it can deter others from doing it.
As a Sierra Leonean I think we need to establish some sort of direction in maintaining peace even for those behind bars and I hope their human rights will be respected at all levels at the detention center, but the judgment is a step in the right direction but the jail term is exorbitant and they (Special Court) needs to be reviewed for the credibility of the Court in the eyes of the Sierra Leoneans they claim to defend.
I don’t rely understand the activities of this Court, it is true that when an individual commits a crime, he or she must be punished for it, but in the CDF situation it happened during the war and so many things happened legally and illegally to restore peace and democracy in the country.
I don’t have problem with the Special Court trials but this judgment on the CDF indictees needs to be reduced to a jail term that is commensurate to the crimes they committed.
I don’t like the special court operation in this country, because lives and properties lost cannot be regained and sentencing indictees for long jail terms cannot also solve the problem.
I want this government and the international community to ensure that the Special Court trials be taken out of the country, because the real perpetrators of the crimes are still roaming the streets with impunity, and that indicting their leaders will not appease the victims.
If the Special Court, wants to ensure that there is justice in Sierra Leone let them indict the real perpetrators who had the guns and knives chasing people from one place to another for their lives and properties, because some of them committed crimes on their own, and their leaders had no knowledge about it during the war.