Treason Trial… Scene of Crime Report Submitted

A report on the visit of the crime scene at State House has been submitted by the Registrar, Patrick Abraham Sannah to the Presiding Judge, Justice Momoh Jah Stevens of the High Court of Sierra Leone.

The report catalogued what transpired between the accused, Alfred Paolo Conteh who is answering to a charge of treason and the Presidential guards at State House on 19th March, this year.

The visit of the crime scene, known in law, the locus in quo came after an application by the lead defence counsel, Dr Abdulai Osman Conteh over the prosecution’s failure to furnish the court with the video footage of Paolo Conteh’s encounter with the security forces at State House.

The video footage, the defence previously strongly submitted, was crucial to the trial as it would have given a clear picture of what happened at State House that would have gone a long way to assist the court in its effort to seek the truth.

The visiting team comprised Justice Stevens, three defence counsels including the lead defence, Dr Abdulai Conteh, three prosecution lawyers and Raymond Kallon who represented the jurors.

While submitting the report to Justice Stevens, Mr. Sannah began his testimony by explaining his principal duty as a registrar which, he said, entailed clerical duties assigned to him by his superior.

The Registrar recalled 24th March, this year, being the date on which he was asked to visit the scene of crime at State House and submit comprehensive report.

Mr Sannah further explained that he took record of all events during last week’s visit at State House which he compiled into a report.

He sought permission from the bench for the report to be tendered and his request was granted by the court.

The report was tendered in evidence, and formed part of the court records.

The report was read aloud and its content indicated that the accused, Paolo Conteh was searched at the entrance of State House before ascending upstairs for the meeting with His Excellency.

Mr Sannah also testified on the sitting posture of the security personnel at State House at the time the accused went there for the meeting.

“At the reception area, the security personnel were all seated accordingly and on the left of the scanner, there is a small passage close to the wall bearing the inscription: ‘NO WEAPON.’

Reading from the report, Mr. Sannah told the court that the accused, Paolo Conteh previously explained to the court that on 19th March, this year, he passed by the reception area and proceeded to the reception desk where he handed over his brown bag to the security personnel.

The Security, Mr Sannah went on, advised him to go with his bag upstairs, but the accused refused to do so saying that he had a weapon in it.

The registrar also reminded the court about a question posed to the accused, Alfred Paolo Conteh by State Counsel, Adrian Fisher as to whether he saw Woman Sergeant Kposowa sitting by the scanner.

Mr Sannah told the court that the response by the accused to Fisher’s question was in the negative.

When asked again about why he failed to place the bag on the scanner, the registrar continued, the accused said he did not want the scanner to alarm as he had a weapon in it.

The registrar also spoke about questions posed to Police Constable Vackie, woman Sergeant Kposowa and Lieutenant Colonel Kposowa by defence counsel Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara about a closed Circuit Television (CCTV) at State House.

The question relates to whether State House Guards would produce the CCTV camera in court to assist the trial.

The witnesses, Mr Sannah said, replied that they would not like to disclose the content of the CCTV owing to the interest of state security.

Counsels for the prosecution were satisfied with the Registrar’s testimony on the content of the report.

However, the Registrar was cross-examined by the lead defence counsel, Dr Abdulai Conteh particularly about the inscription ‘NO WEAPON’ on the walls of State House.

Dr Conteh asked: If the inscription was newly written on the walls of State House.

The witness’s response to Dr Conteh’s question was that he did not know whether it was newly written as he said he had never been to State House except on the day of the crime scene visit.

The matter comes up today for address.

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