Benguema Murder – Charges Reduced to Manslaughter

Magistrate Komba Kamanda of the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.2 yesterday reduced murder charges brought against three accused military officers to manslaughter, despite consultant pathologist, Dr. Owizz Koroma, early testifying that the victim, Charles Amadu Williams, was strangulated to death at the Benguema military training centre.

Magistrate Kamanda, who presided over the preliminary investigation, also granted the accused persons bail before committing the matter to the High Court for trial.

The deceased was alleged to have been murdered by three military personnel – Captain Samuel Munda Momodu, Lieutenant Henry Lamin Sesay and Lieutenant Alhaji Borbor Sheriff – in a fracas involving the dead soldier and three accused officers, although the charge has now been reduced to manslaughter.

State prosecutors had arraigned the trio on one count of murder contrary to law, after they alleged the accused had murdered the deceased at the Benguema Arms Forces Training Center.

In his ruling, Magistrate Kamanda recalled that the accused were charge with one count of murder contrary to law, and that the prosecution relied on seven prosecution witnesses – factual and formal, including a police officer and a government pathologist – during the preliminary investigation.

He said the prosecution alleged that the cause of death of the deceased was as a result of assault on the accused persons on 26th February 2014, a charge the accused persons deny, citing inconsistence.

He said the no case submission by the defence counsel put more emphasis on the testimony of the government pathologist, Dr. Owizz Koroma during cross-examination, which clearly stated that the cause of death of the deceased did not result as a result of the incident.

He said the injury the prosecution alleged was not correlated to the cause of the death of the deceased, but was sufficient to commit the matter to the High Court, albeit as manslaughter and not murder.

Earlier, defence counsel, Ronald Gidwani Esq., had applied for bail, on the grounds that though section 79(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1965 does not consider bail for offences like murder and treason, because the charge had been reduced to manslaughter, under section 120 of the said Act, bail could be granted to the accused military officers who have served the country and are ordinarily resident in the Western Area of Sierra Leone.

He said the accused have reliable sureties to stand on their behalf and that they will not interfere with prosecution witnesses, nor jump bail. The accused would always present themselves whenever they are needed at the High Court, he assured the court.

Responding, Police prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent of Police Raymond B. Dunia, said he relied on the discretion of the bench.

Thus, Magistrate Kamanda granted the accused persons bail in the sum of Le.100m and sureties in like sum, with the latter being resident owners of a house in Freetown, and for one of the sureties to produce a title deed to his property, while the bail should be approved by the Acting Master and Registrar.

Source : Concord Times

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