Court Martial: Army Investigator Confesses Failure to Clarify - Sierra Leone News

Monday, March 18, 2019

Court Martial: Army Investigator Confesses Failure to Clarify

 The senior investigator of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Major Justin Koroma has told the ongoing court martial that they did not go to the 3rd Brigade to clarify the statement of the 1st accused, Captain Patrick E. Kamara regarding the test firing he claimed was undertaken by the former Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF).

The 20th prosecution witness, Major Justin Koroma made this statement during cross-examination in the ongoing court martial presided by the Judge Advocate Aljahi Momoh-Jah Stevens and the Court Martial Board at the military headquarters, Cockerill in Freetown.

During his evidence in chief last week Tuesday, Major Koroma testified that during their joint investigation at CID, the 1st accused Captain Patrick E. Kamara promised to bring footages and pectoral documents on test firing which they undertook, but he did not make the document available, even though he told them that he had it in his memory stick.

The witness said that they were waiting for the document so that they will visit 3rd Brigade for clarification. But since the 1st accused didn’t bring the documents, they did not bother to clarify the claims.

The court martial is constituted in Freetown to hear a case of three soldiers: Captain Patrick E. Kamara, 1st accused; Samuel Conteh, Warrant Officer Class 1, 2nd accused; and Abu Bakarr Jalloh, Warrant Officer Class 2, 3rd accused. They are accused of willfully damaging service property; conspired to steal ammunition; and involved in a conduct prejudicial to the group order and military discipline.

Major Koroma is currently attached at 4 Brigade, Joint Provost Unit in Makeni. But prior to this, he was attached at Special Investigation Branch as Officer Commanding (OC).

Major Koroma stated that they went to 3rd Brigade but not necessary to make clarification, adding that he did not asked at Joint Force Command (JFC) about the administrative authority because there was no documentary evidence.

Whilst responding to defense counsel for the 1st accused, Ady Macaulay, Major Koroma said, “We requested for those documents claimed by the 1st accused that he has it in his memory stick.”
He added that the visited Joint Force Command and they talked to Captain Bockarie Aruna (PW 8) who only gave them the weekly arms and ammunition returns, noting that they obtained statement from Capt. Aruna base on the document he submitted to them.

He looked at exhibit M which is the statement obtained from Captain Aruna with regards the clarification the 1st accused had asked the investigation team to make at Joint Force Command. Defense counsel produced and tendered it as exhibit AD-1.

Lawyer Macaulay asked, “Show me in exhibit AD-1 where you asked Captain Aruna a question regarding the clarification in respect to the training exercises?” the witness said that it is not indicated in the exhibit.

“You will agree with me that that there is no evidence before this court to show that you cross checked the statement of 1st accused with regards to the test firing apart from what you have said?” Lawyer Macaulay said. The witness said that there is no evidence in the statement.

However, Lawyer Macaulay told the Judge that he want it to be on record that the witness didn’t answer the question. The Judge noted it.

Major Koroma furthered that there is nothing to prove that the 1st accused has a right to have legal representation apart from what he said in the witness box, adding that they briefed the accused persons. He noted that there are some briefings that are not recorded. He said that it is left with the suspect to decide to have legal representation when giving statement, noting but it is not all discussions that are recorded during investigation because some are not relevant.

He disclosed that he investigated the theft of ammunition including the 12.7mm AA rounds and 14.5mm AA rounds which were found in the septic pit.

“We did not directly accuse the 1st accused of the ammunition theft. We briefed the 1st accused whether he put the ammunition into the septic pit. We did not ask him whether he damage any property of Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces,” he said.

“During the course of the investigation, nobody told me that he saw the 1st accused putting the ammunition into the pit and nobody told me that he was involved in putting it into the pit,” he said.
He testified that it was also established that the 1st accused move State Lounge in April 2018, and it was established that the ammunition was discovered on June 18, 2018. He disclosed that he cannot tell who was in charge of the State Lounge between April to June 18. He pointed out that during the course of the investigation, the current guards of the president were within State Lounge when the ammunition was discovered.

The experienced investigator, Major Koroma said, “I cannot tell if the ammunition was stolen when the 1st accused travelled between June 2014 to December 2014, because the 1st accused told me that he met poor documentation when he returned.”

“Upon his[1st accused] returned, there was a new format which is to do weekly arms and ammunition returns,” he said. “And when he [1st accused] checked, there was no discrepancy between what was in the store and the ammunition returns.” He added that he did not asked the 1st accused about what he left in the store before travelling.

He testified that the 3rd accused told him during his contemporaneous statement at CID that with the authority of the President, the 1st accused was the only person that had access to the presidential ammunition store.

Mojor Koroma confirmed that the 3rd accused back-loaded the ammunition to JFC and 3rd Brigade.
The 3rd accused was the Company Quarter Master Sergeant (CQMS) at JPGF. According to Major Koroma, in certain case were the Quarter Master is not available or absent, the CQMS can perform the role of a Quarter Master as far as logistics is concern.

Major Koroma did not agreed with defense counsel, Lawyer A. Koroma that the 3rd accused did not perform the role of Quarter Master, but he cannot tell whether there was Quarter Master or not because the 3rd accused was performing the role of the Quarter Master.

He stated that he cannot tell whether the 3rd accused did not receive arms and ammunition throughout his tenure as CQMS from 2011 to 2018.

According to Major Koroma, the 3rd accused told him at CID that there was 835 round of 12.7mm of AA in store while 1172 of 14.5 mm AA was later handed to him for safe keeping. Major Koroma said that there is no specific document that show that the 3rd accused signed for ammunition.

Testifying on the issue regarding the 2nd accused, Major Koroma said that the 2nd accused was investigated based on the period he served. He stated that the investigation team did not do anything to establish the amount of ammunition the 2nd accused had in store because he did not present any document to the investigation team regarding such. The investigator said he did not do any independent investigation due to lack of document.

The three accused persons were represented by Ady Macaulay, D. Taylor and A. Koroma, respectively, whilst the State Counsels are A.V Koroma and J.A.K Sesay.
Court adjourned to tomorrow Tuesday March 19, 2019.

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