Dr Sylvia Blyden refused bail by magistrate

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2020:

Sierra Leone’s former minister of social welfare in the Koroma-led APC government, who was arrested by police and has been in detention for the past three weeks, appeared at the magistrate court today, where many expected her to be granted bail.

But those hopes were dashed when the presiding magistrate Hannah Bonnie, refused bail, due to what was considered as “serious crimes”.

Dr Blyden has today been charged with ten count offences, ranging from seditious libel, publication of false news, defamatory libel, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and doing an act tending to pervert the course of justice.

The case has been adjourned to next Thursday, 28th of May 2020, with little or no prospect now of Dr Blyden receiving bail.

Also appearing in court today, was a young child-rights activist – Muckson Sesay, who was arrested immediately following the detention of Dr Blyden.

And, after spending weeks behind bars without charge, today the young man was charged for publishing a picture of Dr Blyden on social media taken when she was being interveiwed at  CID, a charge he deneis. (Photo).

“The Sierra Leone government’s unrelenting pursuit of  Dr Sylvia Blyden without bail is nothing short of a full-scale assault on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  Prominent female activist, journalist & health advocate, Dr Sylvia Blyden has been held in police custody for 21 days without bail following her arbitrary arrest by armed security forces.

“Dr Sylvia Blyden was detained after calling on the government of President Julius Maada Bio to respect and protect human rights and democracy, and take more appropriate measures to tackle Covid-19.

“All eyes are now on the Sierra Leone judiciary to see if due process will apply. The burden is on the judiciary to uphold the rule of law and protect our human rights or allowed to be used and further undermine judicial independence and the rule of law,” says rights campaigners yesterday.

In another development, former defence minister – Palo Conteh. appeared at the High Court in Freetown, yesterday Friday, 21 May 2020, presided by Justice Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens.

Alfred Palo Conteh and others have been charged for crimes relating to illegal possession of firearms and other felonious offences.

Palo Conteh is being represented by the veteran and erudite international lawyer – Dr Abdulai O. Conteh – who is also the former Chief Justice of the Belize Supreme Court; former Special Court Judge and Attorney General in the Koroma-led APC government – Joseph F. Kamara; and Barrister Wara Serry-Kamal.

Representing the State, are the Attorney General and Minister of Justice – Mrs. Priscilla Schwartz and Barrister – Adrian Fisher as lead prosecutors; Director of Public Prosecutions – Mr. Ngakui; D.J Soyie; J.K Sesay; Robin Mason; and Umaru Napoleon Koroma, –  all present in court yesterday.

Opening and submitting the case for the State, the Attorney General is said to have questioned:  “How can a trained soldier who has held several positions of security nature, above all a Barrister who knows the law of the land, carried a loaded gun to the Office of the President,  if not to use it?”

Palo Conteh, whose wife also appeared in court two days ago for unlawful possession of firearms and refused bail by magistrate, has been held in detenion for the past several months, after he was arrested for allegedly taking a gun into State House.

But during Palo Conteh’s last appearance at the magistrate court, his lawyers questioned the veracity of the charges and demanded that State prosecutors produce the video recording showing Conteh walking into State House with a gun. Prosecutors refused.

Palo Conteh’s case was adjourned until 26 May 2020.

According to court report by Milton Margai, in the case involving Isata Saccoh – the wife of Palo Conteh,  who appeared  before Magistrate Hannah Bonnie last Wednesday, 20th May 2020, it is alleged that she conspired with others to help  Palo Conteh escape from the Pademba Road Prison.

State Prosecutor – Adrian Fisher, read out three charges against Isata Saccoh, ranging from  – conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to law, to possession of a small arms and light weapon.

According to State witness – Detective Nathaniel Desmond Williams, said he took possession of all the evidence gathered from the raid carried out at the house of Isata Saccoh, as he handed the exhibits to the court.

However, the lead counsel for the accused – lawyer Wara Serry-Kamal, objected to count 1. According to court reporter – Osman Kamara of Radio 98.1, the lead counsel said the police couldn’t show which law they used and that they were deceiving the court. She asked that Count one be corrected.

She also highlighted that her client has been ‘in custody for 21 days, which goes against her human rights,’ as she requests bail on the grounds that her client is not a flight risk. “She can come to court anytime the case comes up and that she has a reliable surety,” she said.

But, Magistrate Bonnie refused bail and sent Isata Saccoh on remand until Friday 22nd May, 2020. The case continues.

5 Comments

  1. It is worth noting that many exceptional Theologians, incomparable Saints and Spiritual masters, over centuries gone by have always maintained that Simon of Cyrene the man that helped our lord and savior Jesus Christ carry his cross on the way to his agonizing crucifixion, deserves a place in omnipotent heaven, for his bravery and gallant efforts, for assisting the Eternal heavens bring its divine ordinances to fruition and fulfillment.

    Indeed, even though Simon was forced by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry his heavy cross after it fell, I also believe that he is truly worthy – the keys of heaven forever now belong to him. Now if the wicked Romans felt that a cross of that magnitude was too heavy, and should not be carried alone, by one man, without help, why are the opposition, friends, family members and the cowardly media, allowing Sylvia Blyden, Pauolo Conteh, Mr Williams and others to carry such overwhelmingly heavy crosses alone, on their way to a bloody crucifixion, already being prepared by the Barbarian SLPP Government.

    Why are diplomats and NGOs collectively not asking that these people been granted bail, instead of sending signals validating the crimes of this authoritarian regime by staying mute. Seriously, we would like this President to know, that he will be held accountable after their tenure in office is finished – we will search for them with lenses, wherever they go and find them and bring to justice for their gross violations against the rights of citizens and heinous crimes they have committed against humanity. Foxes,and rabbits are known to hide in holes, and disappear out of sight, when hunted but if these criminals and lawless individuals try the same stunts we will dig and wrench them out, drag them like sacks full of Cassava and drop them into the waiting arms of justice.

  2. These are serious charges against Sylvia Blyden , now I understand why President Bio is trying to repeal the criminal libel laws but unfortunately for her it’s still the law of the land , and until the current parliament who should have acted on it ( but unfortunately are still dragging their feet) amends that law, its a very serious crime against the state.
    Our current Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mrs. Priscilla Schwartz who happens to be the first woman to occupy that position in the history of our country is tough as a STEEL, and I personally believe that the defense that Dr. A. O Conteh is pursing by attacking her integrity and qualification for that office will be unsuccessful. Based on the background of Mr. Paolo Conteh his action is inexcusable .

  3. Please fatourma gabba, which are the “human wrong organizations”? please announce their names. another point: when fnally Sierra Leone will abolish the death penalty?

  4. Your status in society does not warrant you to be treated differently when a crime is committed bordering on state security. PAOLO and Sylvia will have a fair trial according to the law, just like F M Minah and others had their days in court. We don’t need EVIL SOCIETY ACTIVISTS or HUMAN WRONG ORGANIZATIONS to dictate our laws.

    • I personally can take your statements home and keep it. You know why? because it makes sense. Paolo’s intention was plain and clear, even the most blinded man on earth, STEVEN WONDA can see the judgement without doubt. Again thank you very much. Paolo Conteh was the only former defense minister I heard him say “I never visit the former president EBK, I don’t know his residence” after working for the man for 11 years. So if someone can say to me that, Alfred Paolo Conteh is a law degree graduate, I ain’t convince. One thing I might try to believe is, he doesn’t have wisdom.

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