By Alvin Lansana Kargbo
In a significant legal turn on January 3, 2024, former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma faced Magistrate Santigie I. S Bangura of Pademba Road Magistrate Court No. 2 for preliminary investigations. The charges against him include Treason, Misprision of Treason, and Harbouring contrary to Law, allegedly spanning from November 5, 2023, to November 26, 2023, in Sierra Leone, involving preparations to unlawfully overthrow the government.
During the investigation’s outset, the charges were read to Koroma, and no plea was entered. His defense team, led by Lawyer Joseph Fit-Gerald Kamara, presented a High Court order from Justice Samuel O. Taylor (JA) seeking bail for the accused.
The bail application, according to the Criminal Procedure Act 1965, Act No. 32 of 1965 and Bail Regulation of 2018, was made on Koroma’s behalf by Lawyer A. S. Sesay, with Prosecution’s Lawyer A. V. Koroma as a witness.
In granting the bail application, Honourable Justice Taylor ordered that a maximum of 10 people including his wife, children, lawyers and members of his political party are allowed to live at his residence.
He also ordered that the former President should not leave his premises without the express permission of the Inspector General of Police, adding that only the National Chairman and the Deputy of his political party are allowed to visit him.
Added to the bail conditions, Justice Taylor ordered the former President to provide two sureties who are senior citizens resident in the Western Area of the Republic of Sierra Leone and that all visits to his residence should be permitted by the Inspector General of Police.
The matter has been adjourned to the 17th January 2024, awaiting the state’s preparedness to present its witnesses.
In another development, the Government of Sierra Leone on January 2, 2024 has taken decisive legal action against 12 individuals, including former law enforcement officers, in relation to the attempted failed coup on November 26, 2023. These charges were confirmed through a public announcement issued by the Ministry of Information and Civic Education.
Among the accused, Amadu Koita and his associates, some of whom previously served as police and correctional officers, have been formally charged with a series of severe offenses, including treason, misprision of treason, and aiding and abetting the enemy.
The legal proceedings have begun at the Magistrate Court No. 2 in Freetown, presided over by Magistrate Santigie Bangura. Eleven of the defendants were present for the arraignment; however, Bai Mahmoud Bangura was notably absent due to a reported illness and is receiving treatment at the Kingtom Police Hospital in Freetown. Consequently, the hearing has been adjourned to 9th January 2024. The court record noted that each of the accused had legal representation.
In the public notice signed by Chernor Bah, the Minister of Information and Civic Education, it was indicated that more charges against additional perpetrators may be forthcoming. The Ministry has committed to keeping the public informed about the progress of the investigations and the legal proceedings aimed at delivering justice for the actions of November 26, 2023. The public will be updated as the case evolves and further information becomes available.