Sulaiman Stom Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 April 2020:
On the 19th March 2020, the Criminal Investigations Department of the Sierra Leone Police, started its investigation into alleged claims that the Former Defense Minister – Paolo Conteh, walked into State House with his gun, to attend a scheduled meeting with President Julius Maada Bio.
The meeting with the president was to discuss issues around the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, which is ravaging countries all over the world.
To date, it is not clear whether Paolo Conteh was caught with the gun, or voluntarily handed it over to the security personnel at State House.
When Paolo was invited by the President (Photo above) for his first meeting at State House to share his knowledge on the Ebola virus, it was rumoured that the APC Party warned him not to adhere to that call. But, according to family sources, Paolo had to go because firstly, it was a national call, but more importantly his love for country.
Since his detention, some APC party supporters have blamed the party hierarchy for not making any formal statement on this issue.
“He may have gone against the party instructions but that doesn’t make him guilty of the allegations, he is still a party member, he has served the APC government in many capacities including standing as a leader during the Ebola fight, for which is the reason for this predicament.
“Not saying a word on this now may imply that the party thinks he may, or is guilty. Therefore the APC should not leave this to the grass-root; even the executive must involve. They should not hang him out to dry,” a party supporter who was standing outside the courtroom during Paolo’s last appearance in court last Friday – 3rd April, said.
The writer understands that the party executives and other senior members are playing a very significant role from the backstage, considering the severity of the crime.
The court proceedings still continue with the defense insisting that the recordings of the Closed Circuit Television(CCTV) should be presented as evidence in court.
According to one of Paolo’s lawyers, they are bent on seeing the evidence of the CCTV as this will show clearly whether Paolo declared his gun before heading to the meeting, or apprehended after passing the security point at State House.
Paolo is appearing at the Magistrate Court in Freetown, charged with sixteen counts of treason. He is being represented in court by Ady Macauley, Wara Serry-Kamal and others.
He will next appear in court on Thursday, 9th April, 2020.