By Janet A. Sesay
A Le200M bail has been granted by Magistrate Hannah Bonnie of Pa Demba Road Court in Freetown to the wife of the former Minister of Defence, Isatta Saccoh.
Madam Saccoh was arrested and taken to the Criminal Investigation Department after the April, 29 attempted Jail break of which she was accused to have played a role.
She spent close almost three weeks in police custody at the Criminal Investigation Department.
Before granting bail, Magistrate Bonnie handed down a ruling on the objection made by defence counsel, Wara Serry Kamal on the last adjourned date.
The objection was that the information on the police charge sheet indicating the date of arrest of the accused, Isatta Saccoh was wrong.
Magistrate Bonnie reminded the court that Counsel Kamal earlier claimed that the accused was arrested in her presence during a search at her residence at Belia Drive, Wilberforce in Freetown.
The magistrate further stated that defence counsel submitted that the date of arrest the police indicated on the file was inaccurate of which the prosecutor knew very well.
“It is pre-fabrication to deceive the court to believe that the accused was not detained at the Criminal Investigation Department,” Magistrate Bonnie quoting Counsel Kamal.
Magistrate Bonnie also said, Counsel Kamal inter alia submitted that the fabrication of the date of arrest of the accused person placed at stake, the credibility of the Sierra Leone Police, a force that prides itself as a ‘Force for Good.’
Against that backdrop, Counsel Kamal insisted that the police must correct their records since they know the date the accused was arrested but refused to tell the court the truth.
Counsel Kamal, magistrate Bonnie went on, also objected that count one which states that the accused conspired with other person to commit a felony to facilitate the escape of a prisoner is unjust.
The count, according to Counsel Kamal, is uncertain and duplicitous to all laws in Sierra Leone as the charge is defective and cannot stand. The defence counsel thus urged the court to strike off the charge and proceed with the remaining counts as her client did not know anything about an attempted prison break.
Magistrate Bonnie said the defence counsel ended her submission arguing that the charge was brought in by the state to deprive her client of bail.
Coming to the prosecutor’s side, the Magistrate said Adrian Fisher replied that the issue of date of arrest is not contentious as it is an administrative writing record for which other evidence before the court could adequately show.
She said the prosecutor further replied that, it did not go to the substance of the matter in any shape or form, and it also made no arguable disclosure in law.
According to Counsel Fisher, statement of count one says conspiracy is an agreement to do an unlawful act.
Magistrate Bonnie furthered that Counsel Fisher ended his submission on the offence charged on count one which states the facilitation of an escape of a prisoner and that the charge was simply put.
According to the charge, the accused conspired with others to facilitate the escape of a prisoner which is an unlawful act prohibited by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service law.
On that note, the ruling handed down by Magistrate Bonnie did not favour the defence counsel as she upheld all charges against the accused and ordered that the matter proceed.
Counsel Kamal therefore renewed her application for bail on behalf of the accused person to which the prosecutor, Counsel Fisher did not object.
Magistrate Bonnie granted the accused two hundred million Leones bail and two sureties in like sum.
Sureties should be resident in Freetown and should be property owners lying and situated in Freetown, and that the property should not be less than one billion Leones.
A tittle deed and a validation certificate must be submitted to the court, and the accused must also surrender all her traveling documents to the court.
The matter comes up on 29th May.
The accused is standing trial on one count of conspiracy to commit a felony and two counts of unlawful possession of arms and ammunition contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone.
The charge sheet indicated that the accused, on diverse dates between 20th March and 29th April 2020, in the Freetown judicial district, in the Western Area of the Republic of Sierra Leone, conspired with other persons unknown to commit a felony by facilitating the escape of a prisoner, Rtd Major Alfred Paolo Conteh from the Central Male Correctional Centre in Freetown.
By Janet A. Sesay