Sierra Leone News: LAB Goes Upcountry for High Court Criminal Sessions

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Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles

Legal Aid Board lawyers are heading to Port Loko, Moyamba and Sefadu for the Special Criminal Sessions of the High Court which will start on Monday, 10 June 2019. Three hundred and thirty-three (333) accused persons will be appearing before the sessions.

159 accused persons, 15 of who are charged with capital offences, will be brought before the court in Port Loko. 155 accused persons, 10 of who are charged with capital offences will appear before the court in Moyamba and 79 will appear before the court in Sefadu. The Registrars of the various courts said that all the accused persons have been served indictments and depositions of the lower court.

This information was provided in response to a question on this subject matter at a meeting with the Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, the Legal Aid Board and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution on Thursday, 6 June 2019 to discuss the upcoming Criminal Sessions with a view to ensuring that the Judiciary, Legal Aid Board and Office of the Director of Public Prosecution are all on the same page. The meeting was held in the Chamber of the Chief Justice.

The Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles informed the Chief Justice and other stakeholders that the Board has assigned 6 lawyers to the Sessions. Counsel Ibrahim Thorlie from Waterloo in the Western Area Rural District and Kabba Sei Coomber from Bo will be going to Moyamba while Counsel Ibrahim Samba of Makeni will be going to Koidu to join his colleague Ibrahim Mansray. Counsel Randy Bangura from Waterloo in the Western Area Rural District will be going to Port Loko to join Counsel Mohamed Korie.

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said judging from experience, it is highly likely that all the accused persons will be represented by Board. She seized the opportunity to talk about the burning issue of adjournments for backlog cases and appealed to the Office of Public Prosecution not to delay matters – through repeated adjournments – for which they do not have the evidence.

She also drew attention to the plight of accused persons whose cases may not be heard in the sessions through no fault of theirs. She noted that there had been instances in the past in which inmates transferred from Correctional Centers upcountry to the Pademba Road Correctional Center have not had their matters heard in the Criminal Sessions.  This is due to the fact that they had not been brought to the location where the sessions are held or had been brought at the end of the Session. Another reason could be, they had not been served indictments.

According the Chief Justice, Justice Ivan Sesay of the Appeal Court will be supervising Justice Ganda who will be presiding over the Session in Moyamba, Justice Alusine Sesay of the Supreme Court will be supervising Justice S.O. Taylor who will be presiding over the Session in Port Loko and Justice Alan Hallowell of the Supreme Court will be supervising Justice A.K. Musa who will be presiding over the Session in the Sefadu.

In a similar development, LAB lawyers represented 127 accused persons in the just- concluded Criminal Session of the High Court (Call Over) on 20 to 24 May 2019.  This accounts for a little over 61% of the 208 matters heard in the session.

The team comprised seven lawyers: the Legal Aid Manager, Ms. Cecilia Tucker, Nicky Spencer-Coker, Mamakoh Betty Kallon, Randy Bangura, Ibrahim Thorlie, Sonia Bobanie Browne and Morrison Karimu.

Twenty-five of the accused persons represented were charged with Sexual Penetration, eighteen with Conspiracy and Robbery, eleven with Robbery and nine housebreaking and Larceny.

The session was presided over by Justice Alusine Sesay of the Supreme Court and Justice Manuella Harding of the High Court respectively.

The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles said the fact that the Board represented most of the accused persons does not come as surprise. ‘We represented over 250 accused persons in the September 2018 Criminal Sessions of the High Court in Freetown,’ she recalled. ‘We basically handle most of the cases in the criminal calendar in the country.’

The Presiding Judges were the Hon. Justice Mr. Alusine Sesay, JSC and the Hon. Justice Manuella Harding, respectively.

The Legal Aid Board lawyers provided legal representation to over 250 accused persons in the ongoing September 2018 Criminal Sessions of the High Court in Freetown.  The sessions started on September 18 and the Board’s Legal Team comprising eight lawyers are providing legal representation to indigent clients charged with offences ranging from murder to sexual penetration, Sacrilege, Wounding with Intent, Malicious Damage, Larceny, Store Breaking and Attempted Suicide.

SUMMARY

CASE NUMBER
ARSON 1
POSSESION OF HOUSEBREAKING IMPLEMENT 1
BUGLARY & LARCENY 3
CAUSING DEATH BY DANGEROUS DRIVING 1
CAUSING GBH 2
CONSPIRACY & ROBBERY 18
FRAUDULENT CONVERSION 6
HOUSEBREAKING & LARCENY 9
LARCENY 7
MURDER 4
RAPE 2
ROBBERY 11
MEETING A CHILD FOR SEXUAL PURPOSE 1
SEXUAL PENETRATION 25
WOUNDING WITH INTENT 6
 SENTENCED  

 

A total number of 208 criminal cases were called over, and the Legal Aid Board handled One Hundred (100) files at the session.

A total number of seven Legal Aid Board Lawyers represented indigent Accused Person at the call-over from the 20TH– 24TH May 2019. The Legal Aid Board Lawyers who represented Accused Persons during the call-over were the Legal Aid Manager, Cecilia Tucker, Sonia Bobanie Browne, O.C Spencer-Coker, Mamakoh Betty Kallon, Randy S. Bangura Esq. Ibrahim Thorlie Esq., Morrison Karimu Esq. The Presiding Judges were the Hon. Justice Mr. Alusine Sesay, JSC. and, the Hon. Justice Manuella Harding (J), respectively.

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