Sierra Leone’s former defence minister – Paolo Conteh appears in court on treason charges

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 March 2020:

Former defence minister and also internal affairs minister in the former APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma – retired major Paolo Conteh, has this afternoon appeared at the Magistrate Court in Freetown, charged with sixteen counts of treason.

Conteh was arrested on 19th March 2020, after walking into State House with his gun for a meeting with president Julius Maada Bio, apparently to discuss the country’s response to the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

He is being represented in court by a coterie of lawyers, including Ady Macauley, Wara Serry-Kamal and other legal luminaries It is expected that Lawyer Joseph F. Kamara will defend Conteh should the case be committed to the High Court, which by all accounts could be the outcome of today’s magistrate court pre-trial hearing.

Conteh was brought to court alongside the head of the National Commission responsible for granting firearms licence – retired colonel Saa Sinnah and retired sergeant Amadu Koita.

According to reports, it is not clear whether Koita and Sinnah are also charged with treason or conspiracy to commit treason.

All three arrived at the magistrate court this afternoon amid tight and heavily armed security from Pademba Road Prison, where they have been held for several days without charge.

Lawyer Macaulay told the magistrate that his client – Conteh, has been placed in confinement at the Pademba Road Prison, without access to legal representatives.  It is also understood that the prosecution had failed to provide the defence with the Conteh’s charge sheet.

Director of Public Prosecutions – Easmon N.B. Ngakui Esq is leading State prosecution counsel.

The case has been adjourned and Conteh was denied bail.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph will bring you more on this fast developing story as we get them.

15 Comments

  1. Why why why? Taking gun to honor an invitation. I think it was a peaceful invitation by the president to tap into his experiences of Ebola Virus. Which I suppose should be a duty of the president to call. It is left with Mr. Conteh to choose for himself to honor the invitation or not. But for him to have accepted to come and also have a gun well armed, shows that he had an ulterior motive. Think about it.

  2. I personally think that Paolo should have known better. He served the nation under the former government. An ex-high ranking military officer, personally I think the law should take its course. Paolo won’t visit the queen of England with a pistol neither will he visit the white house with a pistol. My worries area: (a) what was he trying to prove? (b) what were his intentions?

    I personally think that if he is guilty he should face the law, because the government of the day should be respected and should go accordingly with the end results of the court. No one is above the law. The law is the law, and it should be fully respected because it was made by the scholars and approved by parliament which should be implemented.

    Lets forget about his political affiliation, or him being a nephew of the ex president JS Momoh or served as a minister of Defence in the former government. Anyone in there right senses will not do such an act.

  3. Call a spade a spade, Paolo Conteh made a mistake. I’m not convinced that he intended to do any harm but was ill advised. Overconfidence and naivety have brought him in this situation. I’ll hope for his pardon should he be found guilty. Mistrust from both parties jeopardises our hard won peace: therefore my call for a government of National Unity!!

  4. Remember what EBK said about the Ebola money: “It’s blood money”! Anyone involved in misusing it, well enough said.

  5. Paola Conteh got himself into a serious mess with his five senses intact, backed by a military background and some legal studies. To crown it all he held various top position in the Koroma government.

    What was he trying to prove by taking a gun to State House – invited or not? To prove the vulnerability of President Bio? To start a revolution by killing the President? To prove his boldness?

    Paola barely escaped the clutches of the Commissions of Inquiry because he had operated with such dexterity that his fingerprints were found on nothing. One would have expected him to assume a low profile for the foreseeable future to give no excuse to the Bio government to nab him.

    But as things turned out he nabbed himself. He now faces treason charges and being treated like the common criminal he converted himself into. Treason charges carry no bail and so the former soldier and politician faces the real prospect of spending the rest of his life at Pademba Road prison if he is not sent to the gallows.

    In his reflective moments when alone, the former soldier and politician will face the reality of his idiotic action and probably come to terms the fact that APC lost to Maada Bio two years ago and that the rage in him over this should be forced to subside. May the Almighty helphim .In another few weeks he will be a broken man. That’s what prison does to those that were once powerful.

    • Mr. Santhkie, frankly speaking you are one of the men I do admire through your eloquent and truthful comments. Thank you. Hey let’s speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. The former soldier got himself into a very serious mess, who can argue that? I can still remember when Paolo Conteh mentioned the last time that “he never visited the former President Koroma’s residence” after being accused of small military forces pocket meeting in Koroma’s residence in Makeni. That was a red flag. Serving 11 years in EBK gov’t and he never visited the president’s house? You be the judge.

  6. Be careful what you say and what you do. And you have to understand that, constitution can be defined as a system of law, custom and convention by which the country is governed. Without arguments this is treason. I believed that we the people, will do everything possible to protect the law of the land. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  7. To be educated is just not the fact that we can read and write. Only a few think it’s so. It would be wise not to attempt to “prejudice this case”. It is a case of treason! All of our utterances at this juncture (at home or abroad) will surely have an impact on the Judgement, (maybe negatively). So please take my word into consideration.

    The case will be called “The State vs. Major Palo Conteh”, and not how we are seeing it to be between 2 People. I will suggest to everyone who wishes to comment, especially if you are not a Laywer to critically think before writing. May God guide and help our Brother throughout. Amen!

  8. What is this court about? Frankly speaking, I don’t get it. God help me understand. Is it fair to say that, this court is about the fact that Retired Major Paolo Conteh placed party politics aside and accepted President Bio’s call to help work with the government in its preparedness strategy against Coronavirus? Is this court about the retired Major declaring his bag with a pistol before entering State House to meet with the President? Is the court about the security granting him access into State House, but he should leave his bag at the security reception?

    Is it because he is someone the world and myself admire and love more than this unpopular Administration? Is it because he is one of the APC mobilising brains behind the inevitable APC victory in 2023? Until my questions are answered, I leave everything in the hands of the well respected and highly intelligent defense team of lawyers ever. Bottom line, the retired Major would eventually be freed with lack of evidence in my view.

    There are some who want to return our country to the dark days of the GALLOWS. Is it fair to ask if some sort of “hanky panky” covert and dirty political games will be prototyping to involve decent APC members unlawfully in this not concerning matter? God help Major Paolo Conteh. We’ll use the most powerful book in the world to pray for his release. God bless our Justice System.

    • Sahr Matturi, God endowed you with a free will. Just use it sensibly to discern situation and you will understand. Okay, let me make it simple for you. Mr ART on establishing this forum so that all of us can come here to discuss issues concerning the well-being of the motherlands. However, there are rules that all wanting to participate here must observed. Trying to flout any of these rules you would be found wanting irrespective of your initial intention to debate in favour of the motherland.

      Similarly, if you are are invited to the USA embassy in Freetown and you attempt to smuggle a loaded weapon into the premises you will be arrested even though you were answering to the invitation extended to you. Now connect the dots. That is the free gift God gave you. And try as much as you possibly can to ask yourself as to why the man that you admire so much and who should know better enter into the state House with a concealed weapon? Also try to know why did he not take the same weapon into the state House during his initial visit? Did he notice a security lapse that he thought he can explore during his second visit?

      I hope that I have helped you understand that which is so confusing to you?

    • Is it legal in Sierra Leone to take a loaded weapon to a public building let alone to the state house? Before cooking up all conspiracy theories think about the logic of carrying a loaded weapon to the state house brother. Why? Why? My advice to the opposition: You are making a grave mistake of under estimating Bio. He’s a trained soldier and leader. He’s in this fight to win it, he keeps saying it too. The people of Sierra Leone elected him he should be given the chance to govern and govern peacefully. You under estimating him at your peril.

    • Sahr Matturi Q: What is this court about?

      Answer: It is about adjudicating the offence of treason and other felonious crimes for which Paolo Conteh, Saa Sinneh and one Amadu Kiota stand accused of.

      Sahr Matturu Says: “Frankly speaking, I don’t get it. God help me understand.”

      Sahr Matturi Q: Is it fair to say that, this court is about the fact that Retired Major Paolo Conteh placed party politics aside and accepted President Bio’s call to help work with the government in its preparedness strategy against Coronavirus?

      Answer: No it is not about that. It is about commiting a crime to wit carrying a weapon into the seat of power knowing same to be wrong.

      Sahr Maturi Q: Is this court about the retired Major declaring his bag with a pistol before entering State House to meet with the President?

      Answer: Is that the evidence that you have? The allegation was that he entered the State House with a concealed weapon and that for the timely intervention of a smart security officer, he could have succeeded in taking the same weapon into the situation room where he was to come face to face with the president of the Republic.

      Sarh Maturi Q: Is the court about the security granting him access into State House, but he should leave his bag at the security reception?

      Answer: The question is not clear and succinctly shows why you are confused as you expressed above.

      Nevertheless, I will endeavor to help you. He is not indicted for gaining access to state house. Loitering in an forbidden place is not part of the counts of his indictment. He was lawfully at statehouse. He was not asked to leave his bag at the security post. The particulars of offence in the indictment is that he attempted to evade security screening with his bag containing a concealed weapon. This is the charge. The prosecution has to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt devoid of our public opinion.

      Sahr Maturi Q: Is it because he is someone the world and myself admire and love more than this unpopular Administration?

      Answer: I don’t know who besides yourself and perhaps few in the APC admires him. But since that is your opinion of the man, who am I to question who you admire or not. Even Hitler has his own admirers. With regards the unpopularity of the current administration or not, it is left with the voters in Sierra Leone to decide and not diasporas like us who feed on hearsay, gleaned mostly from fake social media post.

      Sahr Matturi Q: Is it because he is one of the APC mobilising brains behind the inevitable APC victory in 2023?

      Answer: He was the APC campaign manager in the 2018 elections and the APC as incumbent with all the resources at their disposal lost woefully. So this tells you whether or not his brain could help the APC come to power in 2023.

      Sahr Maturi: Until my questions are answered, I leave everything in the hands of the well respected and highly intelligent defense team of lawyers ever.

      Comments: Your questions have been answered. The rest we leave to posterity as the case unfolds and the evidence is made clear.

  9. I’m waiting patiently to see the judgment of the court. But to me, Mr Conteh you messed up terribly. I think you should pray!

    • I think he does not only need prayers, but also should DRY FASTING for 80 days and nights……he messed up massively…both parties have military backgrounds…

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