Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 July 2020:
The sacking of the former Attorney General of Sierra Leone – Dr Priscilla Schwartz, has brought into sharp focus, many of the mistakes she made as minister of justice responsible for advising the government, as well as deciding which crimes allegedly committed against the State should be sent to court for trial.
One such case is the Palo Conteh treason allegation that was unanimously thrown out by the Jury at the High Court in Freetown last month, which should never have gone to court given the remarkable absence of evidence.
Another high profile case, is that involving Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, sponsored by the sacked Attorney General that similarly should never have gone to the courts.
The charges brought against Dr Blyden ranged from ‘seditious libel against the president’, cyber-crimes, and latterly – contempt of court.
As a result of these allegations, Dr Blyden served over 50 days at the Pademba Road prison, whilst the Attorney General searched for evidence to corroborate her allegations without success.
After appearing at both the Magistrate Court and the High Court for the past few weeks, yesterday Dr Blyden’s contempt of court hearing was thrown out by the Judge for lack of evidence.
Commenting on her acquittal, Dr Blyden said: “These photos were taken shortly after my brilliant and erudite lawyer, Charles Francis Margai Esq., successfully argued the Law in my favour and the judge, the Honourable Mr. Ivan Sesay JA, totally agrees with my lawyer and throws out the State’s case against me at the High Court.
“Thanking God for successful proceedings this morning at the High Court. The other matter at the Magistrate Court continues and is slated for next week. I remain to be a blessed Child of God – giving all my glory to the Almighty.”
Supporters of Dr Blyden will be delighted at this new development, as they look forward to similar acquittal by the magistrate when her hearing resumes next week, especially after the country’s parliament yesterday repealed Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalises libel as a seditious crime against the State.