By Abubakarr Harding
Supreme Court Judge, Honourable Justice Alusine Sesay (JSC), officially concluded proceedings involving 43 criminal cases on September 19, 2023. This marked the official High Court Call Over and the opening of the September Criminal calendar, a significant event in Sierra Leone’s legal landscape.
The ‘High Court Call Over’ is a pivotal stage in the judicial process, addressing cases that have previously undergone Preliminary Investigations at the Magistrates’ Courts and have been referred to the High Court for trials. Additionally, this process also handles fresh indictments from the Law Officer’s Department, ensuring their proper assignment to various Judges.
The gamut of cases brought before the court was diverse, ranging from severe offenses like Murder, Manslaughter, Conspiracy, Robbery with Aggravation, Larceny, House Breaking, Sexual Penetration, Wounding with Intent, to Dangerous Driving, among others.
Justice Sesay delivered verdicts for 16 individuals who had pleaded guilty to various offenses, sentencing them according to the law. Notably, one individual, Abdul Karim Kargbo, was discharged due to his demise while in custody at the Correctional Centre, absolving him of the charge of Robbery with Violence.
One of the cases that garnered attention was that of 23-year-old Driver, Ishmael Bendu, who was convicted of Motor Manslaughter. He was sentenced to five (5) years in prison, accounting for the time he had already spent in remand. Ishmael had admitted to causing the death of Victor Mansaray on January 18, 2023, in Freetown, Western Area, Republic of Sierra Leone, while driving a Mercedes Benz truck with registration number AUQ-837.
Another motorist, 32-year-old Driver Mohamed Bangura, faced a similar fate as he was convicted of Motor Manslaughter. He received a five (5) year prison sentence, which included his time spent on remand. Mohamed acknowledged his culpability in the death of Francis Selenga on April 22, 2023, in Freetown, Western Area, Republic of Sierra Leone, while operating a Bajaj Motor Bike with registration number ATP-826.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Mason, Alhaji Idrissa, also known as “Kartel,” pleaded guilty to one Count Charge of Store Breaking and Larceny. As a result, he was handed a two (2) year prison term, which included the time he had already served.
The charge against Alhaji Idrissa pertained to his involvement in a store break-in on August 10, 2022, in Freetown, Western Area, Republic of Sierra Leone. Along with others, he unlawfully entered the store of Howard Kumasi, stealing Fifty Bags of Cement valued at Twenty Thousand and Fifty Leones (NLe20, 050).
The prosecution team for these cases was led by Lawyer A. J. M. Bockarie from the Law Officer’s Department, while the accused individuals were defended by lawyers from the Legal Aid Board, under the guidance of Lawyer Cecilia Tucker. This judicial milestone reaffirms the commitment of the Sierra Leonean legal system to dispense justice fairly and transparently.
It must be noted that the Judicial Week does not deal with the review of cases on which judgments had been delivered already but rather to review cases which had been presided over and determined solely by Magistrates across the country with the aim of ensuring that their decisions were not inconsistent with the requisite Laws that govern their Operations.
Also, it looks into other issues such as prolonged adjournments and that of bail among others.