By Janet A. Sesay
Stiff bail conditions have been granted to Dr Sylvia Blyden and Hussain Muckson Sesay by Magistrate Hannah Bonnie of Pa Demba Road court in Freetown.
The former is the awareness Times Publisher and ex-Minister of Social Welfare and the latter is her personal assistant.
The bail conditions include Le 500M (five hundred million Leones) and two sureties each in like sum.
The sureties should be responsible citizens resident in Freetown.
The conditions further state that each surety should produce a tittle deed which should not be less than Le 1Bn (one billion Leones) and building permits be attached to the tittle deeds.
Sureties must lodge with the court all relevant documents and their evaluation certificates.
The strictness of the bail criteria made it extremely difficult for them to be met and the accused persons have been taken back to prison custody waiting to appear in court on the adjourned date.
It is not clear whether the accused persons could be bailed before the next adjourned date.
Dr Sylvia Blyden who was picked up at her residence at Cockle Bay in Freetown, few weeks back, was charged with nine counts of false publication, defamatory and seditious libel among others.
Her Personal Assistant Hussain Sesay was charged with a lone count of perverting the course of justice.
The offences, by nature, are bailable but have been denied bail in previous appearances she and her co-accused have made before Magistrate Hannah Bonnie.
She has spent close to a month at the Female Correctional Centre while her Personal Assistant has spent weeks at the male correctional centre in Freetown.
Before the bail was granted, the State Prosecutor, Yusuf Sesay, sought for a date, detailing that the file was just handed over to him, asking him to prosecute the matter.
He then told the court that, on the next adjourned date, he would endeavour to produce the witnesses in court for the matter to proceed.
Defence Counsel, Melron Nicole Wilson, renews his application for bail on behalf of the second accused, Husain Muckson Sesay, with respect to the submissions he made on the last adjourned date.
In her defence, Dr. Sylvia Blyden first of all made an application that she wanted the court to furnish her with a copy of the ten-count charges for which she was arraigned that so that she prepare for her defence.
She said that she was charged with ten counts on different dates and different offences, but she did not know exactly what she was charged with and would be constrained in her defence if she did not get a copy of the said charges.
Dr. Blyden made this application by referring to section 23(5)(a) of the Sierra Leone Constitution Act No.6 of 1991 and section 110 of the Criminal Procedure Act No 32 of 1965.
She read both sections quoted, and Magistrate Bonnie asked the prosecution to furnish her with the said charges.
Dr. Blyden then renewed her application for bail on the same grounds as at the last adjourned date, including her medical condition and states that she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
She said that she have served as a member of the National Security Council when she was Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and she knows about national security.
She appealed to the court that her health condition is not good and never wished to run away from the proceedings.
The matter was adjourned to the 3rd June 2020.
It could be recalled that the accused, Dr. Sylvia Blyden and Husain Sesay, were arraigned on ten counts of seditious libel, contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Public Order Act No 46 of 1965, publication of false news, defamatory libel, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and doing an act tending to pervert the course of justice.
The particulars of offence indicate that the accused, on 23rd April 2020 at Freetown, did an act with a seditious intention through publication via Facebook on social media, insisting that the country detained Palo Conteh in a cell where he was forced to urinate and defecate in a bucket, and was forced to sleep in a cell where windows are placed so high that fresh air cannot easily remove the stench from the cell.
The particulars also indicate that the accused, on 20th October 2018 in Freetown, published through social media a defamatory matter that Sierra Leone’s President Bio is caught in self-created ethnic vortex but cannot escape it because it was by whipping up untrue sentiments.
The particulars furthered that Hussain Muckson Sesay, on 2nd May 2020 in Freetown with intent to pervert the course of justice, did an act to publish a photograph on Whatsapp social media group without lawful authority.
By Janet A. Sesay