Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 August 2016
When the case against Sierra Leone’s presidential hopeful – Alie Kabba was adjourned by Justice Miatta Samba a week ago, so it can resume on Thursday, 18th August 2015, the expectation was for the prosecuting lawyers to conclude their round of cross-examination of their witnesses.
They failed to present their witnesses on the 18th August, and the case was adjourned once more. Alie Kabba is now being blamed for the prosecution’s sloppiness and incompetence.
The onus of ensuring that witnesses for the prosecution appear in court, cannot be passed on to the accused; nor should the accused be expected to ensure that witnesses for the prosecution are frog-matched into court.
Newspaper reports of Alie Kabba failing to produce witnesses on Thursday, 18th August 2016, have been described by legal experts as “absolute rubbish and damn right mischievous”.
The key question that must be asked now is, for how long is the Attorney General – Joseph Kamara (Photo) going to put up with such sloppy and callous abuse of court jurisdiction and prosecution privilege, when lawyers acting for the state cannot produce their witnesses, so as to bring this case to a final conclusion.
Like him or hate him, one cannot ignore the travesty of justice that is written all over this politically motivated case against Alie Kabba, say critics of the government.
Dragging out any court case, irrespective of the identity and status of the parties to the case, thereby prolonging its conclusion so as to frustrate and emotionally punish the accused, is plain wrong and a gross violation of civil liberty, a senior lawyer in Freetown told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
“This flagrant abuse of power in Sierra Leone must stop. The prosecution cannot expect to win its case, if it cannot produce its final witnesses to corroborate the evidence given under oath by government minister – Diana Konomanyi,” he says.
Once the prosecution has concluded its cross-examination, lawyers for Alie Kabba should then be expected to call on their witnesses to give evidence. This is how the legal system works.
Speaking to Alie Kabba this morning in Freetown, he confirmed that he stands by every word that he and his lawyers have submitted in court, as he continues to plead his innocence.
He also confirmed that it is not true that he failed to produce witnesses in court last Thursday, as reported in sections of the media.
“I really don’t want to comment on the case as it is still ongoing. But what I would like to say is that, it is not my duty to find witnesses for the prosecution. And it is not my duty to ensure that witnesses for the prosecution turn up in court.
“Even if it is my duty to produce witnesses for the prosecution – assuming they are struggling to find one to back up their evidence against me, it would not be in my interest to prevent any witness from appearing in court after they have been summoned to do so by the prosecution. To interfere with any witness in a case is a criminal offence. So why am I being accused of refusing to produce witnesses for the prosecution. It just does not make any sense.
“It seems some people are desperate and are therefore doing desperate things to continue to tarnish my good name and character.
“Since the start of this case last January, I have done nothing other than to cooperate with the prosecution and the court to ensure that justice is done. And this is what I intend to continue to do, until my name is cleared.”
Media report stating that the case “was deferred on the grounds that there was no defending witness to testify”, is false and shows a complete lack of understanding of how the court system works, a legal expert told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
“It is not for defence witnesses to testify on behalf of the prosecution. This is rubbish,” he said.
As the government continues to throw away money it can ill-afford on a case that will not benefit the poor people of Sierra Leone – irrespective of who wins, it is now up to the Attorney General Joseph Kamara to decide whether he wants to continue to waste tax payer’s hard earned cash in this way.
The prosecution are hoping to have their two missing witnesses in court next Thursday, 25th August, to conclude cross examination. The case continues.