By Janet A. Sesay
Two accused persons, Founder and Leader of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray and Marion Arouni have been denied bail by the Sexual Offences Court presided over by Justice Samuel Taylor.
The former was roped in for an eight-count indictment of sexual penetration while the latter was held for aiding and abetting the commission of a sexual offence under the same indictment.
The accused, Kamarainba Mansaray showed up at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Freetown which houses the Family Support Unit following the issuance of a warrant of arrest.
He was arrested on the day he surfaced at the CID and placed in cells where he was held for more than three weeks contrary to the maximum detention period of 10 days for felonious crimes.
The charge sheet indicated that the accused, between 1st March and 31st March 2020 in Freetown, conspired with other persons unknown to commit sexual penetration.
It also indicates that Marion Arouni between 1st March and 31 March 2020 conspired with other persons unknown by aiding and abetting the first accused to sexually penetrate a child.
The accused pleaded not guilty of all charges read to him.
Umaru Sumaray prosecutes for the state and the accused persons are represented by Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai and team.
Presenting a strong case for the judge to grant bail to the first accused, Counsel Abdulai canvassed the court by showing that the accused is a respectable citizen in Sierras Leone and has a stake in the country’s political dispensation.
He referred to Kamarainba Mansaray as a man of high caliber who is determined to defend his name in this matter right to the conclusion.
Counsel Abdulai also informed the court that the accused was held in police custody since 21st July without bail.
He also submitted that the accused had no intention to leave the country and that the state alleged that the incident took place partly in Kono and partly in Freetown.
Defence counsel ended his submission citing section 23(4) of the constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 which, he says, provides for the presumption of innocence of the accused person.
The presumption of innocence, the defence said, meant the accused is innocent of the crime for which he is standing trial until the court proves him guilty.
Owing to such principle, the defence argued, the accused is entitled to bail and canvassed the court to rule in favour of the accused.
Counsel Abdul Karim koroma also adopted the same application for the second accused.
Counsel Koroma told the court that the accused had peculiar characteristic that fell within the ambit of those who should benefit from the provision of Regulations 2018 by referring to regulation 7(1)(b).
The second accused, counsel submits, is a primary care-giver of three children whose ages range from two, four and fifteen.
It was for the sake of the children that she was granted bail at the police station.
State prosecutor objected to the bail application made by defence lawyers.
In response to the bail application, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai objected that the state prosecutor did not file an affidavit in opposition to bail.
“They should have filed an affidavit to the defence so that they would know the conditions why they are opposed to bail,” he argued.
He further submitted that the prosecution should not to object bail when they fully knew that the defence would apply for bail for the accused.
Replying the defence, state Counsel said she could not file an affidavit when the defense had not made an application for bail.
“Now that the defence has made their application for bail, she will serve them the affidavit in opposition to bail,” she argued.
Counsel Abdulai further opposed the arguments of state counsel referring to the affidavit now in file as an “ambush.”
“The prosecutor fully knows that they [defence] don’t have second bite in making an application for bail on behalf of their clients,” Counsel Abdulai submitted.
After arguments and counter arguments by the prosecution and the defence, Justice Samuel Taylor adjourned the matter to today and same time ordered state counsel to put the necessary documents in place in opposition to the bail application.
Meanwhile, State counsel has also told the court that since the matter is not meant for preliminary trial, it should be tried by Judge alone and not by Judge and jurors.
State counsel made this application pursuant to section 144(2) of the criminal procedure Act no 32 of 1965.
She told the court that the application was authorised by the written instructions of the Director of Public Prosecution duly signed and dated by him on the 13th August, this year.
Lead defence counsel objected to the application made by state counsel noting that the first accused opted to be tried by Judge and jury.
Counsel Abdulai also relied on the provision of section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Act which, he said, made it mandatory for the court to allow the accused person to be tried by Judge and jurors.
“This is a very serious offence, and the fundamental purpose of bringing an accused to court for a criminal offence is for justice to be served. In so doing, the accused shall elect the mode of trial which is said throughout the Criminal Procedure Act starting from section 145 to 146,” Counsel submitted.
Counsel Abdulai also argued that the state could apply for trial by Judge alone, but the court is mandated to pay attention to the selection of the accused.
Arguing for the second accused, Counsel Abdul Karim korma also adopted the same mode of trial called for Counsel Abdulai.
In his response to the defence’s submissions, state prosecutor Umu Sumaray replied that it was for the interest of justice and speedy trial that the accused be tried by Judge alone.
Having heard submissions from the two sides, Justice Taylor overruled the state prosecutor and issued an order for a pool of jurors to be ready today.