Legal Aid Board Provides Defense for 15 Soldiers in Ongoing Court Martial

The Board Aid Board is providing legal representation to 15 of the 27 soldiers in the ongoing court martial in Freetown, with 12 of the 27 soldiers being represented by private lawyers.

The soldiers were arraigned on 88 counts of charges following their involvement in the attempted coup plot on November 26, 2023. The charges range from mutiny to aiding the enemy, failure to suppress a mutiny, stealing public or service property, and committing a civilian offence.

Speaking on the provision of free legal representation to soldiers in the ongoing court martial, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, noted that the Board took the decision to represent all the indigent soldiers because they have a right to one. “The Legal Aid Act 2012, establishing the Legal Aid Board guarantees free legal services to persons who cannot afford them,” she said. She added that even though the Board does not have enough lawyers on its staff, it will ensure no soldier goes unrepresented. “We will continue to prioritize legal aid provision to indigent persons to ensure we target those who need the services most, such as remanded inmates, women, and children,” she stressed.

In another development, the Legal Aid Board provided legal representation to a total of 34 indigent accused persons in high court trials in Freetown, Kabala, and Kono. Two of the accused persons tried in Freetown were represented by Legal Aid Counsel Randy Bangura, 18 in Kabala by Counsel Thanu Jalloh, and 14 in Kono by Alpha O. Kamara.

The accused persons were arraigned on multiple offences ranging from conspiracy to robbery with aggravation, sexual penetration, arson, housebreaking, and larceny.

18 of the 34 accused persons were either acquitted and discharged or cautioned and discharged. These include 14 accused persons from Kono, two from Freetown, and two from Kabala. The remaining 16 matters are ongoing.

The two accused from Freetown—Mohamed Kamara and Osman Kamara were standing trial on conspiracy and robbery with aggravation, among others, before the Honourable Justice Sulaiman Bah. They were discharged on Monday, January 15, 2024, for want of prosecution.


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