Palo Conteh treason trial – prosecution’s case begins to unravel

Sierra Leone Telegraph court correspondent: 05 June 2020:

Palo Conteh is charged on a 13 count indictment. Two of those counts – 15 and 16, relate to allegations of making a false statement on oath otherwise than in a judicial proceedings, contrary to section 2(1) of the Perjury Act of 1911.

The allegation of the prosecution is that Palo Conteh made a statement in his application for a firearm licence, saying ”He has never been found guilty of any criminal offence or have any charges pending for any offence in Sierra Leone or elsewhere which he knew to be false.”

Essentially, the allegation is to the effect that either Palo (Photo) has been convicted of a crime or had a criminal charge pending against him and lied about it in his application form for firearms licence.

In seeking to prove the allegations of making a false statement in counts 15 and 16, the prosecution called two witnesses – Police Officer Issa Sesay (Prosecution Witness 8) and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) official – Joseph B Noah (Prosecution Witness 9).

It could be recalled that before the treason allegations against Palo, both the ACC and the Police were investigating him on various allegation of crimes committed.

Palo’s Defense Team was led by Dr. Abdulai O Conteh and Joseph F Kamara, along with Africanus Sorie Sesay, Ady Macauley and Wara Serry-Kamal.

During the court proceedings, Joseph Kamara Esq. and Roland Wright Esq. had both objected to the prosecution calling PW8 and PW9 to testify on grounds that the prejudicial effect of their testimonies will outweigh their probative value. The objection was over ruled by Judge Stevens.

Led in evidence by Joseph Sesay of the Law Officers Department, the following is a transcript of the  cross examination of witnesses conducted by Palo’s Lawyer Ady Macauley Esq (Photo):

Ady Macauley: Detective constable Sesay, you investigated Palo Conteh on various criminal offences, right?

PW8 Sesay: That is correct.

Ady Macauley: Detective constable Sesay, your investigation of Palo was concluded and the file forwarded to the Law Officer’s Department in December 2018 for legal advice?

PW8 Sesay: That is correct.

Ady Macauley: The law officers department is yet to proffer legal advice on the conclusions of your investigation?

PW8 Sesay: That is correct sir, they have not provided us the legal advice.

Ady Macauley: Detective constable Sesay, since you concluded your investigation of Palo Conteh you have not obtained a charged statement, informing him that you are going to charge him with a criminal offence?

PW8 Sesay: No sir, I have not done so.

Ady Macauley: No further questions my lord

Lawyer Ady Macauley then proceeded to cross examine  PW9  Joseph B Noah of the ACC):

Ady Macauley – Question:  Joseph Noah, you are chief-of-investigation officer at the ACC, is that correct?

PW9 -Noah-Answer: Correct sir.

Ady Macauley: Joseph Noah, the ACC Started investigating Palo Conteh 18 months ago, is that correct?

PW9 Noah: Yes sir, that is correct sir. My lord I was supervising an investigation into an allegation of… (interjection from defense)

Ady Macauley: My lord it is sufficient that the witness has told the court that the ACC is investigating the 1st Accused person. It will be prejudicial to talk about the details of unproven allegations; and the prosecution is seeking to sneak through the back door evidence of bad character and that is inadmissible.
Judge Stevens ruling: Sustained, Mr. Noah limit your answers to the fact that the 1st accused is being investigated by the ACC but don’t go into the details of the allegations.

Ady Macauley: Grateful my Lord.

Ady Macauley: Joseph Noah, the ACC investigation is still on going, is that correct?

PW9 Noah: That is correct, the investigation is still on going.

Ady Macauley: That will be all for this witness my lord.

Listening to the above cross-examination, a senior lawyer commented that from the testimonies of both PW8 and PW9, it would appear that the Judge will direct the Jury to acquit Palo Conteh on Counts  15 and 16.

The reason he said, is that, the prosecution brought in the two witnesses to prove that there were pending charges against Palo Conteh in other investigations they were conducting which he is alleged to have lied about in his firearms application form.

Both witnesses, however, confirmed to the court that even though there were ongoing investigations, there were no pending charges against Palo Conteh.

The senior lawyer said this was an own goal scored against itself by the prosecution, and that given the seriousness of the treason offence alleged to have been committed by Palo Conteh, counts 15 and 16 were ill advised and unnecessary.

As for the 2nd and 3rd Accused persons, their lawyers hardly cross-examined them, as the testimonies of witnesses hardly touch on their clients.

PW10 when cross examined by Roland Right Esq. confirmed that Palo’s application for gun licence was a renewal, so he need not go through the processes again as required by a New application, given the fact that he had already gone through those processes when he first applied for a firearms license in 2017.

“Incrementally, the Defense team is knocking down the charges against Palo Conteh like dominoes which puts the competence of the Prosecution Team, led by both the Attorney General and the DPP, Easmon Ngakui, into question,” the senior lawyer commenting on the proceedings, said, as the trial continues.

Earlier, the Atorney General and State Prosecutors refused to provide the video recording they alleged shows Palo Conteh walking into State House with a gun. Their refusal they say, is based on the need to protect state House security, an excuse many in Sierra Leone find baffling.

“Why not show us the evidence of Palo entering State House with a gun, so that we the people can make up our minds,” one bystander said outside the court which is heavily guarded by armed soldiers and police officers.

14 Comments

  1. Suleiman S Jalloh, I think that you are the one misconstruing my post above. If you know how legal proceedings work, you will understand what I was commenting on. In the court system, the party calling the witness (in this case the prosecution) would have to lead that witness which is call ‘examination in chief’. After the examination in chief, the defense will conduct their cross examination. After the cross examination, the prosecution would do a re-examination of the witness and finally if the bench has questions, he will clear it before the witness is dismissed.

    Now to what I posted here. I am concerned that only the transcript of the cross examination is posted in this article. The writer or Editor for what ever reason ommited the transcript the examination in chief and the re-examination of the witnesses. As readers we are not adequately informed about the totality of the evidence if the article here is our only source of what transpired in the court. This is not how court reporting is done. I will not comment on half of a story.

  2. Frankly speaking, I am really sickened, saddened and appalled by this gross political intimidation happening against APC members by the Bio SLPP. Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, Dr Sylvia Blyden and others are now clearly victims of a hostile JUNTA den. Will President Bio and the Bio SLPP simply learn from President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya? See how President Uhuru Kenyatta, skillfully handled that explosive political situation between himself and one of Africa’s most difficult and stubborn politicians Mr Ralia Odinga, in the aftermath of his second term election. According to one of my sources, President Uhuru Kenyatta “proactively shut down all the radio stations that were ready to announce the victory of Mr. Ralia Odinga, who has already declared himself winner.

    By doing so, he proactively prevented Mr Ralia Odinga and other people to face serious charges.” Smart eh? He just saved his country from further violence, turmoil, chaos and anarchy after a very contested election. Such a situation would have been a messy situation if it were to happen in Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone these days, we are busy setting up, cooking up and botching up information to politically incriminate and arrest descent and potential APC presidential candidates in the 2023 elections. I don’t believe these tactics will work. Bottom line, we will have a lot of convincing to do when the tide changes in 2023. God help, protect and bless Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, Dr Sylvia Blyden, Ms Isata Saccoh, all those unlawfully incarcerated and more importantly, the children of Rtd Major Paolo Conteh and Ms Isata Saccoh who are left to take care of themselves while Daddy and Mummy are in detention due to a botched political setup.

  3. In my personal opinion, I believe that Paolo Conteh’s gun license should have never been renewed based on the fact that he should have failed the medical test, which is one of processes that he is supposed to go through, because since the APC party lost the 2018 presidential election, his behavior and statements about the New Direction government is nothing short of INSANITY. How can a SANE former Defense and Interior minister of the main opposition party take a loaded gun to the Statehouse to have a meeting with the President to share his experience about the Ebola virus, in order to help defeat the deadly Coronavirus disease that is currently destroying innocent lives around the world?

    Secondly, why should they renew his gun license then without undergoing his current background check which should have proved that he was under criminal and corruption investigation, which should have raised the red flag that he probably will be a disgruntled citizen against the current government that is investigating him. Finally I believe that the best option for the defense team is for Paolo Conteh to plead INSANITY for his stupidity and hopefully he will be the first APC politician to benefit from the newly refurbished mental institution that President Bio has just commissioned.

  4. Hey listen! for reasons best known only to the Editor, I am quite sure that is why he used a strictly, pragmatic approach in disclosing only what he deemed essential in this critical matter at hand. The fact still remains lucid, totally comprehensible and crystal-clear – Paolo Conteh was set up; they threw him a juicy bait and he swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. Now let a few sensible, thinking minds only answer this and dispute with me if they can. How on earth will you be criminally investigating someone and then at the same time, offer him an invitation to assist you in solving the challenges being encountered in a national pandemic?

    Answer – Do sworn enemies invite each other to joyful banquets and dinners? Again, if our lives have been meticulously written on different pages of the book of destiny, then a reader will have to turn from one page to another to study and adequately discern what has been written decisively about both our lives. The criminal SLPP and Paolo Conteh are like straw and fire, they cannot be put together; like wolves and fragile ewe-lambs, they are. Paolo Conteh is the innocent lamb of course. Ask yourselves, why then did these shady, corrupt, sadistic-minded individuals, invite him to participate in such a worldwide emergency of the highest national importance?

    Something smells quite fishy and the notorious SLPP have been widely known for having the tenebrous, shadowy bargaining attitudes and tendencies of slippery, deceitful fishmongers at King Jimmy Market. Ask me not how Mr Ady Macauley was able crush them like soft fruits in a juice blender; or how he easily managed to slice and dice them like raw onions and tomatoes, until they became mushy and pulpy with defeat, humiliation, sadness and regret. That is what true professional lawyers do! Bravo Sir, for exposing their ineptitude, lies and deceits.

  5. I wish the article had carried out the examination in chief rather than just the cross examination. That way readers would get a holistic view about the entirety of the evidence. As it is now, I cannot say anything because the transcript of the prosecution’s case has been for what ever reason being ommited from this article.

    What if the prosecution had adduced that the defendant had several cases investigated against him at the CID and that in one such case he decided to settle the matter by paying back to the state through the ACC the amount that it was alleged he swindle from the state. That in it self is a guilt. But like I said, we have been left in the blind as to what if any the prosecution adduced through the two witnesses mentioned in the article.

    • David Samura, I think you are missing the key point here and as a result conflicting yourself. I am pretty sure the prosecutors know much better than you do. That is why they chose not to bring up the instances you are citing here. Unlike you, prosecutors know the difference between apples and bananas.
      For example, stealing funds from the government coffers as you quoted is different from planning to kill a sitting president as alleged. The latter is a serious crime and it should be proven beyond reasonable doubt and above all, not be confused with apples to oranges. Yu don shine ur eyes naw?

  6. Folks the law did not just look at Paolo Conteh’s face or because of history of him, and went after him illegally, does the former major of the Sierra Leone national army,also a trained lawyer did not commit a crime? give me a break people. H.E. Rtd.Breg. Julius Maada Bio is a law abiding leader, because of you hate him so bad you won’t agree with me. My prayer is thanks to God he failed in his coup attempt. Likewise Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh, and the others let them bring up all their defenses, all arguments are welcome but let me remind him 1987 Minah and kaikai reasons trial, after all Minah’s defense team deliberations, he knows what he was capable to do. The law book that he over turned made an amendment on it, it’s still exists.

    Paolo Conteh must receive a fair trial and the whole entire world must be satisfied with the verdict. APC wish is for Paolo to be pronounced dead today – no, justice must prevail. I am praying for H.E. for God’s guidance protection and wisdom, may God continue to bless this country

    • I just dont get it Brima Sesay. Can you explain much more clearly why APC wants Paolo Conteh to die? If so, then why are they spending all their time, energy and money to protect and advocate for someone they want dead? I just dae wonda why?

  7. What is absolutely confusing about Paolo Conteh’s treason trial is that, according to him: he did carry a authorised gun to state house; passed through check point gates and got stuck at the third one. Another point against him is that, he is quite aware of the fact that no unauthorized gun is allowed at the vicinity of state house. If these allegations are indeed true then, what next does he has to say to get him on the safe side?

    • In my opinion, how about if the gun is authorized to be carried to State House? Is he going to be found guilty? No wonder the public, especially the APC, view this as a plot to manhandle Paolo Conteh as a pay back for late Sam Hinga Norman, who died under the custody of the APC administration and the traditional herbalist who founded the medicine that resulted to the formation of the kamajors; and who is currently serving prison terms for crimes against humanity in Rwanda.
      All this is not good for the country. President Bio should have served as an embodiment to the new direction and a new way forward. For now, he has refused and chooses the other way. I just do not know when he is going to choose the real new direction.

  8. Mr Thomas,truly delighted to have someone like you representing,as events,keep on unfolding in our beloved Sierra Leone to the fullest of your capabilities.This article although brief,is a priceless one,because it offers pragmatic,objective-minded thinkers,like myself a first hand,authentic,unbiased,glimpse of some of what actually took place inside the courtroom.I have always maintained,that these inept individuals now in power,are totally unfit to hold any kinds of public office whatsoever. Defense lawyer Mr Ady Macauley,shredded them to pieces like paper;he was too much,and too hot,for their silly, toddling, kindergarten minds to handle; Well done Sir!

    It was a precise attack,that clearly,it seems,only took minutes,of firing a few direct,brilliant questions to easily exposed how shockingly,unprepared,and incompetent they were. Paolo Conteh was set up – the invitation offered to him to join the SLPP in the fight against Covid 19 was all a devious,calculated ploy,designed to entrap him,and keep him in jail,out of mind,and out of sight.Sad isn’t it? All this happening because an insecure,pint size dictator,hates being insignificant? His little mind,and tiny brain thinks that by bullying,arresting,and killing people,he will finally be loved,respected,and held in high esteem by the people of Sierra Leone. Wrong!

    Hey,Little man, I have news for you;Respect is earned,cultivated like seeds you sow;there are no fruitful,abundant harvests that come to those spreading chaos,and promoting misery,but their only guarantees,are nothing but ceaseless endless seasons of famine,and drought.Clear enough!

  9. Most of us use the internet acronym LOL to mean “laugh out loud”. But in Sierra Leone political circles, where campaign strategists are supposed to have superpowers, it stands for “lie or lose”– the public does not like the truth and those who flirt with telling it, don’t stand a chance. There is no such thing as an outright political lie. Instead, there is distortion, exaggeration, misrepresentation, deception, half-truth and overstatement. The assumption is that the risk is worth it. Hubris and narcissism mean they outweigh the consequences of a politician getting caught – they think – by the benefits of telling voters what they want to hear. They know they seek support for our preconceived notions and avoid information that challenges established views.

    Strategists assume voters have an almost infant-like response to lies, believing that if something is not true, we would not repeat them. So, the most effective political lies repeated again and again. Say something often enough and people will start believing it. Lie, lie, pants on fire!

  10. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Now we have reached the point where the case of the former defence minister under the presidency of Bia koroma, Paolo Conteh is unravelling in front of all fair minded and justice-seeking Sierra Leoneans. As anyone who has applied for a government document knows, in your first application you fill in your details. Unless there is a change of name, marital status or address, when you go for a renewal of that document, there is no need to inform the authorised anything, unless you have to. They have to go by the old records and it is their duty and responsibility to ask you if the information they hold on you is correct? If yes, you do not have to do anything.

    If no, then It is your responsibility to update them with any new information. Maybe you are now gender neutral. Neither man nor woman rather an alien spaceships. You are no more a Fulani but Krio or Mandingo, Limba or any other tribe for that matter. In refusing to show the CCTV footage, the prosecution team, if they wanted to be seen to be telling the truth about what took place in State House and they could show the tape in the privacy of the court chambers where both judge, prosecution and defence teams and jurors are present, without the need of showing it to the outside world.

    I start to wonder whether Paolo Conteh was set up by the president or his over-zealous advisers, because he is viewed as the only credible person that will take him on in the next election and fell into his trap. Convicted or not, he will not be running for office anytime soon. Because clearly it does suggest to me, that the authorities were after him long before the PISTOL-GATE in State House.

  11. While I am by no means a fan of Paolo Conteh, I will definitely like to see a fair trial, devoid of any political interference on the charges brought forth against him. No rational individual should prejudge or cast him as a criminal, until he is proven guilty in a fair court proceeding. If he is indeed found guilty of any of the charges, the law must fully take its course – that is the mandate of our constitution.

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