The Holden of the Criminal Session of the High Court in Port Loko commenced on the Monday 31st August, 2020, and is expected to end on the 11th September, 2020. The two weeks session will embark on full blown trials for over twelve (12) accused who were allegedly charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. If convicted for same, they will face death by hanging.
According to the laws of Sierra Leone, anyone who is tried and convicted for any capital offense, including murder, will be sentenced to death either by hanging or by firing squad in a public place.
Also, twenty- five (25) accused will be tried for allegedly committing sexual penetration offences, which are contrary to the Sexual Offenses Act of 2012. The others will be tried for other criminal offenses, including wounding with intent, human trafficking and fraudulent conversion, etc.
Report reaching this medium reveals that the Correctional Facility in Port Loko is badly overcrowded with over two hundred inmates for a facility that was built for one hundred and twenty people. Impressively, the center is well taken care of, but one of the ways to address overcrowding in facilities, where there is no resident judge, is to ensure that a Special Criminal Session is held.
“The day I have been waiting for is here. God and the law will decide my fate; I have been here for nine months since my matter was committed for trial by the Magistrate in Kambia. I was falsely accused for allegedly committing a crime I have no clue about,” Sitta Kamara charged with conspiracy, store breaking and larceny revealed.
“I’ve carried the pregnancy for nine months. It was complicated to the point that operation was done for me to have my child. How could I kill my own child? Why should I be locked as a common prisoner? My brother, I was fetching water from a pit at the back of our house and my child was on my back. While I bent down to lift the water, my child slipped from my back and fell onto the hole and died… I count it as a blessing to appear before a judge after being locked up for several months now. I know the God I serve will deliver me from this ridiculous situation,” Mariatu Kargbo said.
The Local Unit Commander of the Port Loko Division, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Madison Sesay of the Port Loko Division, described the move by the Hon. Chief Justice as timely and open hearted. He said the session will ensure that the accused who were apprehended and charged for allegedly committing felonious crimes by the police will have their day in court as provided by the Constitution and other relevant legal documents.
Addressing stakeholders, at his conference room, main Law Court Building, Siaka Steven Street, Hon. Chief Justice Desmond Babatunda Edwards said the holding of Special Criminal Sessions in Kabala, Port Loko, Kailahun, Punehun, Moyamba and Tonkolili is a creature of Statutory Instrument No. 21 of 2019, and the said reference is ensuring that cases are expeditiously tried and justice delivered for both the accused and victims.