By Janet A Sesay
A ruling of trial by a lone judge in respect of an eight-count indictment of sexual penetration against Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray and Marion Arouni has been challenged by the defence in the Appeals Court.
The defence wants to see the Appeals Court overturn the High Court ruling and replaced by a trial by judge and jury.
The ruling for a trial by a lone judge was the second ruling handed down last Wednesday by Justice Samuel Taylor after a heated argument by the defence and the prosecution.
Justice Taylor’s first ruling favoured the defence as he upheld the submission of trial by judge and Jury.
During the first ruling, the judge went as far as ordering the master and Registrar of High Court to prepare a list of jurors for the trial to commence proper.
The judge’s switch to another ruling in subsequent hearing without proper and sufficient reason compelled the defence to lodge an appeal in the Appeals Court.
Making his submission yesterday at the sexual offences court, one of the defence counsels, Abu Koroma argued that the prosecutor, Umu Sumaray brought section 144(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965 for the first accused, Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray to be tried by judge alone.
The defence, he said, objected to the application under section 144 of the same law which makes it mandatory that the court allowed an accused person to choose the mode of trial.
As a result, he submitted that the court stay the proceedings until a ruling is handed down by the Appeals Court.
J.M Jengo who represents the second accused, Marion Arouni also adopted counsel Koroma’s submission.
He told the court that: “delay is dangerous when it comes to the interest of justice.”
In response to those submissions, the prosecutor, Umu Sumaray said it was a tactic employed by the defence to delay the matter.
Counsel Sumaray told the court that she had three witnesses to testify adding that failure of the matter to proceed was caused by the defence.
In the midst of the argument for the mode of trial, the lead defence, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai and counsel J. M. Jengo made an application for bail for the two accused persons.
Bail for the accused persons was refused by Justice Taylor who told the defence that he would not grant bail without hearing testimonies from witnesses.
To ensure progress, defence counsels agreed with the prosecution for the trial to continue pending Appeals Court ruling.
However, state counsel replied that she would not proceed with the matter until a ruling comes from the Appeals Court.
She told the court that the prosecution’s effort would be wasted if the Appeals Court ruling favoured the defence.
She suggested that the matter be adjourned for a week so that the defence will have one mind as to what step to be taken before they come to court on the next date.
“All what the defence counsels want is bail for their clients,” counsel Sumaray told the court.
Pushing for a speedy trial, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai apologised to the court for the misunderstanding between the defence and the prosecution and pleaded for a short adjournment so that the matter could proceed.
Before adjourning the matter, Justice Taylor warned the defence that the court would not take it light with them if they played games on the next date.
The accused persons are arraigned on eight counts of conspiracy, sexual penetration of a child, meeting a child for sexual purpose and aiding and abetting the sexual penetration of a child.
The charge sheet indicates that the first accused between 1st and 31st March 2020 in Freetown conspired with other person unknown to commit sexual penetration.
The charge sheet continues that the first accused, on 14th February 2020 in the eastern town of kono engaged in an act of sexual penetration of a child.
The last count states that the second accused, Marion Arouni between 1st and 31st March 2020 aided and abetted, Mohammed Kamarainba Mansaray to sexually penetrate a child.
The matter comes up on 28th August.