Saturday, February 14, 2015

The case of the missing prosecutor

Awoko, which has provided excellent gavel-to-gavel coverage of what must be one of the slowest-moving courts-martial in modern history, has this report on delay due to the continuing absence of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces prosecutor:
Judge Advocate Otto During has strongly warned that the court martial proceedings will not hold if the lead prosecutor Gerald Soyie is absent in court. He made this statement as a result of the unavoidable absence of the lead prosecutor who complained of sudden illness on 2nd February 2015 at the military headquarters in Freetown.
Lead prosecutor Soyie has been absent for three court martial sittings and according to the Judge Advocate the lead prosecutor should be present for all the sessions.
“We cannot do without him, this is a very serious matter and he has to be here to see how the defence moves with the case” Judge Advocate During said.
He registered his disappointment stating that the court martial was moving at a fast pace.
“It is a pity he got ill and there is nothing the court can do about it” he added.
In another word the court martial has to wait until the lead prosecutor gets better, which cannot be ascertained at the moment, as his condition was not mentioned.
However Major Vincent Sowa, a member of the prosecution team said if prosecutor Gerald Soyie does not show up on the next adjourned date, the defence is at liberty to apply for bail.
He said according to section 79(1) of the Criminal Procedures Act 1965, a person charged with murder or treason shall not be admitted to bail except by the discretion of a judge to do so.
The court martial involves 13 military personnel standing trial for allegedly committing mutiny against the state and the government and have been in custody for 18 months since August 2013.
The court martial was adjourned for Monday 16th February 2015.
Instead of bail, how about simply having another officer prosecute the case? The judge advocate appears to have lost control of this trial.

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