The Judge Advocate, Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens has issued a bench warrant for the first accused, Captain Patrick E. Kamara for failing to attend court martial trail on Wednesday June 5, 2019.
Captain Patrick E. Kamara escaped from the military detention facility at Wilberforce in the early hours of Tuesday May 21, 2019. Following his escape, seven military officers are in custody helping with the investigation.
Captain Kamara is standing trial at the court martial with two other military officers – Samuel Conteh, Warrant Officer Class 1 (2nd accused); and Abu Bakarr Jalloh, Warrant Officer Class 2 (3rd accused) – on five count charges including conspiracy to steal service property, larceny by servant, willfully damaging service property, willful neglect causing damage to service property and conduct that was prejudicial to the group order and military discipline, contrary to the RSLAF Act No. 34 of 1961 as amended. But they have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The quantities of ammunition for which they are being tried under the various offences include: 4, 245 rounds of 12.7mm anti-aircraft rounds; 3, 828 rounds of 14.5mm anti-aircraft rounds; 11 bombs of Rocket Propel Grenade; six rounds of 7.62×3×9mm ball lint; 14, 100 rounds of 7. 62× 39mm tracer; and 6, 740 rounds of 7. 62×51mm ball lint; and 515 rounds of 9×18mm ball.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the value of the aforementioned ammunition is USD$ 80, 402.30 (Le 683, 419, 550).
The Judge said that the trail will continue next week with closing addresses from both the prosecution and defence council, and he will give the summing up the following week.
He said that the prosecution will first give the closing address and then the defence. He said that he will not say that Captain Kamara has escaped, but he will rather say that Captain Kamara is not appearing for court hearing.
“I will issue a bench warrant to accused for not attending hearing. So, Let it be noted that there is a bench warrant for the first accused for not attending court today,” Judge Stevens emphasized. “Members of the Court Martial Board, as you see the first accused is not in court today, but the trial is going to continue even if he is not in court, and there will be fair hearing.”
The defence council for the first accused, Lawyer Macaulay told the court that it will be challenging for him to give an address in the absent of his client [Captain Kamara] because there will be instances where he will want to conferred with him. “I will continue to represent my client, but it will be difficult for me to make a representation when he is not here,” Lawyer Macaulay said. “So, I will not be able to make my closing address.”
Judge Stevens however, told Lawyer Macaulay that if Captain Kamara was the only person standing trail, he would have had a second thought, but there are two other accused persons. “Even though you are constraints, in view of the evidences before this court, I will advise that you prepare very well for the address,” he said. “I will want you to cooperate so that the trail will not go beyond three weeks.”
However, pursuant to rule 48 of RSLAF rules, the prosecution applied for an additional witness to testify on the escape of Captain Kamara.
In his testimony, the witness, the Commanding Officer of Joint Provost Unit, Joint Force Command Headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel James Peter Koroma testified that he has three companies under his commands. He said that the custodian center where the accused was detained is a subset under his area of command.
His functions are ensure that overall management and administration of JPU, in terms of both personnel and materials resources.
Testifying why the Captain Kamara is not in court today, he said that it is as a result of his escape from detention on May 21, 2019. “On this day, at around 6:30am, he was at his house when the Officer Commanding the Joint Provost Unit at Wilberforce, Major T. H. Sandy called and told him that he has received ugly information from one Warrant Officer informing him that Captain Kamara has escaped. Upon receipt of this information, I rushed to the custodian center. On arrival at the center, Sergeant Tucker confirmed that Captain Kamara has escaped,” he said.
He said that it is not to his knowledge that someone has ever escaped from the custodian center at Wilberforce. He said that the detention facility where Captain Kamara was staying was looked and it can only be opened from the outside if proper procedure was followed, adding that there was no breakage on the detention facility. “I did not see any rope on the fence, but I was shown a drum and by its side, there was an already made wooden lather bind with binding wire with a nail at the top. I did not see any tool in the custodian center that will suggest that someone was trying to break,” the witness said.
He added that since the escape of Captain Kamara, he has not had from him, and that a joint investigation is being untaken to look at circumstances leading to his escape.
He testified that they alerted their personnel in the borders.
The Acting Director of Legal Services in the RSLAF, Lieutenant Colonel MBS Kamara said that according to the military law, the trial should continue.
He said that from the military point of view, the court martial procedure makes provision for the trail to continue, adding that justice delayed is justice denied.
The accused persons were represented by Lawyer A. Macaulay and D. Taylor, whilst the case was prosecuted by Lieutenant Colonel MBS Kamara.
The Court Martial is adjourned to Tuesday June 11, 2019.