S v Sankoh and Others ([node:field-casenumber])  SLHC 1 (11 April 2000);
IN THE HIGH COURT OF SIERRA LEONE (CRIMINAL JURISDICTION)
Vs Foday Sankoh and Others
JUDGEMENT OF THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE P.O. HAMILTON DELIVERED ON THE 1 1th DAY OF APRIL, 2000.
This matter originally started thirty (30) accused persons on an indictment of 81 Counts. Following no case submission 18 of the accused persons were discharged leaving 12 accused persons. In relation to Counts 31 to 81 all the accused persons were discharged as there was not sufficient evidence led against them. Counts 16 to 30 dealing with murder was allowed to stay on the file: by an application made by the pros and no evidence was led on them. Counts 1 to 15 which deals with conspiracy to murder contrary to section 4 of the OAPA 1881 was then made the counts for which the twelve (12) accused persons were made to open their defence.
The accused persons were then renumbered as 1st to 12th accused thus! Sheku Andrew Coomber Andrew Kambay, Alhaji Conteh, Momoh Rogers, Ibrahim Blango, Augustine Bongia, Faday Kannie Lansana, Prince Emerson Turvntis Zachariah Adonis Donald Rhodes, Sidie Koroma, Ibrahim Koroma and Mohamed Bockari'e.
This trial then proceeded on the basis of trial by judge alone that is I became both Judge of Law and facts.
Counts 1 to 15 deals with conspiracy to murder contrary to section 4 of OAPA 1861. The particulars of offence on all the counts relates to divers days between the 1st day of May, 2000 and 10th day of May. 2000 in Freetown in the Western Area of Sierra Leone.
Conspired together and with other persons unknown to murder Alhaji Sesay, Manama Gassama Harding Kallon, Kabba M. Bangura, Abu Bakarr Saoman Conteh, Manso Sesay, Josephus Conteh, Suliaman Bah, SLA 18164 860, Foday S. Brima, Peter Kargbo, Komba, Lucy Cole and Bala Turay.
Section 4 of OAPA, 1861 provides: "All persons who shall conspire, confederate and agree to murder any person whether subject to His Excellency the President or not ....... and whoever shall solicit, encourage, persuade or shall propose to any person to murder any other person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be convicted thereof........."
The prosecution must prove a conspiracy between the accused persons or between them and any other person unknown the object of which was to murdered the persons named in the counts in the indictments.
What then in law is conspiracy? This is an agreement between two or more persons to do an unlawful act or to do a lawful act by an unlawful means. Where it rests on intention only it is not indictable. However, where two agree to carry it into effect the very plot is an act itself, and the act of each of the parties, promise against promise, actus contra actum. This offence can only exist with the consent of two or more persons and their agreement is an advancement of their intention which each has conceived in his mind which then passes from a secret intention to the overt act of mutual consultation and agreement. Thus an agreement by two or more persons is conspiracy, even if the conspirators do nothing in pursuance of the agreement, Conspiracy involves the element of "mens rea" in that the pros must prove not only an agreement between the conspirators to carry out an unlawful purpose, as signified by words or other means of communications between them but also an intention in the mind of the alleged conspirators to carry out the unlawful purpose.
In conspiracy it must be proved that the alleged conspirators were acting in pursuance of the criminal purpose held common between them, and that each conspirator knew there was in existence or coming into existence a scheme which went beyond the illegal act which he agreed to do. To convict of Conspiracy it is not necessary for the conspirators to have concocted the scheme which is the subject-matter of the charge nor that they should originated it if a conspiracy is formed
and a person later joins it after-wards he is as guilty as the original conspirators.
In a charge of conspiracy unlike other offences, the acts and declarations of anyone of the conspirators in furtherance of the common design may be given in evidence against any other conspirator and this applies where the charge is one of a crime committed in pursuance of the conspiracy.
It is for me sitting both as Judge and Jury to remind myself that before evidence can be given of acts and declarations of one conspirator against another the existence of the conspiracy must be proved and also the facts that the parties were members of the same conspiracy and that the act in question was done in furtherance of the common design.
Having set out the law, it is for me to remind myself that this is a criminal trial for which the burden of proof is on the pros to prove the guilt of the accused persons behind reasonable doubt not for them to prove their innocence. Where the pros does succeed the accused persons, must be found guilty and convicted. Where they fail the accused persons must be found not guilty and acquitted and discharged, similarly where a reasonable doubt is created based on the evidence led that doubt must be resolved in favour of the accused persons and they must be acquitted and discharged.
This is trial involving a plurality of accused persons in which case I must look at the evidence against each accused persons and then come to a conclusion but subject to the law relating to Conspiracy wherein acts and declarations of one accused person against another accused persons is treated as evidence against that other accused person.
However for ease pf reference I shall have the accused persons in their old number and new number as and when necessary. The 1st accused is still 1st accused. The 2nd accused was originally 3rd accused. The 3rd now was 4th accused, the 4th was originally 5th, the 5th was 6th the 6th was originally 8th, the 7th was 10th, the 9th was 13th the 10th was, 14th the 11th accused was17th and the 12th was 22nd accused. I shall refer them in their new as well as old numbers.
What evidence was led against the 12 accused persons. I shall review the evidence both for the pros and the defence to arrive as a reasonable and sound conclusion.
P.W1 Mohamed Marrah DPC 4518 tendered the voluntary continued statement of 10thaccusednew 7th accused as Exh. C. In XXD he said the statement of 10th accused who is now 7th accused was a denial. He does not know whether the 10th accused now 7th accused was identified or not.
P.W3 Francis Eustace Egerton Eliot P/Sgt. 1662 tendered the statement of 3rd accused formerly 4th. accused as Exhibit F. In XXD he said the investigation was on Conspiracy to murder several persons but did not obtain statement from any particular person. He was only present when this accused made his statement to DPC 2541 and his "A" is for Abubakarr. He cannot remember when this accused was arrested but he first saw him on 11th May 2000. His investigation was after the May 8 disturbances at Foday Sankoh's residence. During his investigation he learnt that there was a group of armed men around the area of Foday Sankoh's house and got to know RUF was armed, UNAMSIL was armed. He cannot tell whether any UNAMSIL officer was arrested on 8th May, 2000. He does not know whether the officer who took the statement went to one Abubakarr Bah or not along Fourah Bay Road. The incident took place on 8th May, 2000 and he did visit the scene of crime. From his investigations he discovered that the demonstration went to the house of Foday Sankoh. He cannot tell now they got to Foday Sankoh's area.
P.W4 Samuel Thaimu Sesay DP/Sgt 1764 tendered in evidence the voluntary cautioned statement of 11th accused formerly 17th accused as Exh. H. In XXD he said that 17th accused now 11th accused is Ibrahim Koroma alias Daddy. In his statement he started narrating from 1994 and his investigations was for the year 2000.
P.W6 Claude B-rima P.C 5644 tendered in evidence the charge statement of 5th accd who was 4th accd as Exh. N, the voluntary
cautioned statement of 8th accd now 6th accd as Exh. P, the voluntary Cautioned statement of 13th accd now 9th accd as Exh. D.
Mustapha Mohamed Koroma (P.W9) who is DPC 268 tendered in evidence the statement of 3rdaccused now 2nd accused as Exh. Z, the voluntary cautioned statement 4th accused formerly 5th accused as Exh. AA, the voluntary contained statement of 8th accused formerly 12th accused as Exh. AA2 P.W1 Augustine Foday Ngobie tendered in evidence the Voluntary Cautioned Statement of 1st accused as EXh. AA4, the Voluntary Cautioned Statement of 22nd accused now 12th accused as Exh. AA5, the additional.voluntary cautioned statement of 1st accused as Exh. AA6.
Andrew Abubakarr Turay P.W1 who is P.C 1256 tendered in evidence the voluntary cautioned statement of 14th accused now 10th accused as Exhibit. AA7, the charge statement of 9th, 10th and 11th accused formerly 13th, 14th and 17th accused as Exhibit AA9, Exhibit AA10 and AA11 respectively, the charge statement of 1st accused as Exhibit AA15.
P.W.10 Victoria Priscilla Forster WP/Sgt. 3924 tendered the charge statement of 10th accused now 7th accused as Exhibit AA17. P.W18 Nancy Sesay an Inspector of Police tendered in evidence Voluntary Cautioned Statement of 6th accused now 5th accused as
Exhibit AA 19. P.W2 Fatmata Mansaray DWPC 5156 tendered in evidence the charge statement 3rd accused as Exhibit AA 20.
P.W13 Samuel Momoh Vandy P/Sgt.1325 tendered in evidence the statement of 12th accused as Exhibit AA 24. P.W14 Ibrahim Mohamed Kawa P.C 4339 tendered in evidence the Voluntary Caution Statement of 12th accused as Exhibit AA 25.
The prosecution closed its case and following a no case submission some of the accused were discharged with the present 12 called upon to put in their defence. The 1st accused elected to give evidence on oath, 2nd accused relied on his statement, 3rd accused elected to give evidence on oath, 4th and 5th accused relied on their statement, 6th and 7th accused elected to give evidence on oath, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th accused persons relied on their statements. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th accused persons called no witnesses. The 7th and 12th accused called witnesses.
At this stage let me remind myself again that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. Where the prosecution succeeds the accused persons must be found guilty. Where the prosecution fails the accused persons ought to be found not guilty and acquitted and discharged; similarly where there is a reasonable doubt created based on the evidence led that reasonable doubt must be resolved in favour of the accused persons and they must
be acquitted and discharged. However the case of the accused persons must also be considered.
I shall first review briefly the relevant portions of their statements as it is on these statements that the prosecution relies as their case to prove the conspiracy charge against the accused persons. It is on these statements that 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10fh, 11th and 12th accused persons relied on as their defence. I shall then review the evidence of 1st, 3rd and 7th accused which they gave on oath and compare it to their respective statements. I shall review the evidence of the defence witnesses which were two - Ansumana Mambu Porga and Alex Momoh Kamara. From the totality of the evidence a reasonable and sound findings conclusions and decision can be made.
The statement of 1st accused is the same as that of his evidence led on oath. I shall therefore review his evidence as it would be a waste of time reviewing a statement which is the same as that given on oath as I do believe his evidence.
The 2nd accused in his statement after narrating his occupation as a photographer and how he was captured by the RUF and became the photographer of their leader Foday Sankoh went on to say: "...........I cannot tell the names of the Black Guards at No.56 Spur Road. I was not present at 56 Spur Road when the women demonstrated there. ! was at No. 12 Josiah Drive...... I do not know if the Black Guards carried
arms...... I wish to state that although I was staying at No.12 Josiah Drive. I do go to No.56 Spur Road only when I am called to take photographs of Chairman Foday Sankoh when he has visitors. On 8th May, 2000 I was at Josiah Drive not at 56 Spur Road Freetown.......". The 3rd accused Alhaji Conteh after narrating his education standard, his association with the RUF and his role in it said: "...........
On Monday 8th May 2000 during the morning hours Mohamed Kamara alias Italy called us to a meeting at Foday Sankoh's house and bold as (Armed Men) that there was going to be demonstration in Freetown on that date and that we the security men should be on the alert and that any of the demonstrators who cause rudeness in the area should be taken cared of by us. Later that day a large crowd came to Corporal Foday Sankoh's house. Corporal Foday Sankoh was in his room with Colonel Gribil Massaquoi, Superman, Mohamed Kamara alias Italy and Ray alias Yellow man. I was standing with my rifle behind the main door leading to the house. Other armed men were deployed by the Main gate of the house. The Kenyan UNAMSIL Captain was also in Corporal Foday Sankoh's house. Later some of the demonstrators started throwing stones at Corporal Foday Sankoh's house.
One Kenyan soldier in Corporal Foday Sankoh's house gave a warning shot in the air. The stoning continued and the Kenyan Captain and Mohamed Kamara alias Italy gave us (Armed Men) order to fire at the demonstrators. Soon after the command we started firing at the demonstrators. The whole area was confused as the demonstrators ran
for their lives......." This accused in his evidence said he was arrested on 7th May 2000 and taken to Johnny Paul's house and then to Pademba Road Prisons. He was in his uncle's house when Brigadier 55 arrested him. He said he was arrested on the 7th and was not at 56 Spur Road on 8th May, 2000. This accused is wicked big liar when this evidence and what I quoted from his statement. I shall say no more about his evidence.
4th accused Mohamed Rogers said: ".......whilst moving towards the gate I met Gibril Massaquoi who gave me one AK 47 rifle and told me to defend myself. The said weapon contained a quantity of ammunitions. Whilst few shots were fired towards my direction I did not release any shot....... I escaped up the hill wherein I received a gun shot on my left hip and I fell down and became unconscious......." 5th accused Ibrahim Blango said: "........ On Monday 8th May 2000 in the morning hours my brother Sidie Koroma RUF Captain met me and told me the Lodge was empty and that everybody was in disarray and the whereabout of the leader is unknown. He advised we find a place to take shelter until the situation gets normal. I told Captain Sidie Koroma that I have a brother at Benguema by name of Corporal Vandy........"
6th Accused Augustine Benga stated that on Monday 8th May 2000 I was at No. 12 Josiah Drive when I heard sporadic gun fire. I was at the
back of the house and so ran into a nearby bush. Whilst in the bush I saw people removing rice mattresses travelling bags to an unknown destination......." 7th accused Foday Kannie Lansana said: "...... On Monday 8th May 2000 I was at 12 Josiah Drive when Brigadier Bioh asks all the occupants to come out. I was forcefully taken to Cockrill and later to Pademba Road. I was not involved in the shooting at Foday Sankoh's house at 56 Spur Road......."
8th accused Prince Emerson. Tuventus Zacharia Adonis said "........ On Monday 8th May 2000 I was at Malama when i was made to understand that a rally was going to be performed by people at the leader's house at No. 56 Spur Road, Wilberforce. I did not attend that rally. I was made to understand that during the process gun shots were heard from Pa Sankoh's house. I got this information from soldiers.
9th accused Donald Rhodes said: ".... On Monday 8th May 2000 i was at No. 12 Josiah Drive suffering from severe stomach pains. I left to buy food when on reaching Regent Road by the War Graves some Kamajors arrested me and took me to Cockrill and identified me as driver of Pa Foday Sankoh. I was then taken to Pademba Road Prisons. I was at the Prisons when I heard that some demonstrators had been fired at. I felt bad......"
10th accused Sidie Koroma said: "..... I always pay frequent visits to 56 Spur Road residence of Foday Sankoh. I also pay visits at Josiah Drive. I have never attended any meeting at Josiah Drive or 56 Spur Road, Freetown. On the 8th May, 2000 in the morning hours i was at Spur Road Freetown. It was through the National Radio I heard that demonstrators had marched to the house of Foday Sankoh. In the afternoon I heard rapid gun shots at Foday Sankoh's residence. Because of this I became afraid and saw people running. As I am a member of the RUF. I also ran to the bush. I went to a nearby bush at Malama were I met other RUF members namely Ibrahim Alpha, Ibrahim Blango, Heary Dee and many others whom I cannot remember. I did not see any of them with gun. I was in the bush with these men for a week living on fruits. Later I arrived with these men at Benguema where I gave myself up to Sierra Leone Military Officers. I slept for a day and was later brought to Cockrill. The next day I was taken to Pademba Road Prisons and detained.
11th accused Ibrahim Koroma alias Junior Daddy in Exhibit H said after narrating that Foday Sankoh is his father and his educational background. He went to state how he joined the RUF and was trained in warfare. He became a spy for RUF and got information from one Marie Sankoh at Congo Water Wellington. He went on to state that he was sent to prison and came out in January 1999 and joined the RUF into the jungle. He then said in part of his statement: "..... i now say i was at the lodge on 8th May 2000 when the demonstrators came to the lodge. I was holding a pistol I was in the company of the following people - Ahaji
Conteh (Black Jesus) armed with an RPG, Leather Boot armed with a pistol, Eldred Collins armed with a pistol, Gibril Massaquoi armed with an AK47 rifle, Sahr Womandia armed with an AK47 rifle and many others whose names I can't now remember armed with AK47 rifles and RPGs. I was deployed inside the house with one Abu who was my body guard. He was holding an AK47 rifle. I could recall these weapons were brought to the lodge the night before the demonstration by a van driver by a UN security and Mr. S.Y.B. Rogers and Gibril Massaquoi. I could not tell where they got the weapons. As I was inside the lodge the emonstrators started sending stones against us. Daddy was inside his room with other body guards. It was I who gave orders to the security to fire against the crowd. I was trying to find my way out to escape as the crowd was advancing. I fired against the crowd and could not tell if I killed anybody. I manage to escape with some other combatants such as Black Jesus, 55, Foday Bah and Papa......... I managed to board a van and came to my mother's place at City Road Congo Water......Two days later I left my mother and came to Malama so as to collect my mobile phone I left in the bush. Whilst in the bush, I saw some group of men who arrested me who asked me what I have come to do in the bush. I did not give them any answer and was arrested and brought to C.I.D. and later to Pademba Road Prisons".
The 12th accused Mohamed Bockarie alias Major Bockarie narrated at length his diamond mission in Kono where he was captured by RUF. He later escaped and was at 29 Clay Factory Displace Camp where I was later arrested as an RUF suspect and brought to Kissy
Police Station. From there he was taken to Pademba Road Prisons. He stated he was an herbalist and was captured to work as herbalist for the RUF but later escaped when his son was killed. These are the points contained in their various statements.
The 1st accused whose evidence on oath is the same as hie statements said on oath that he gave himself up to the C.I.D. He said that he heard on 7th May, 2000 that there was to be an interview of Foday Sankoh on FM 96.2 but it was later turned down. There was a caller on the radio who promised that come 8th May 2000 they will go to the house of Foday Sankoh destroy his water electricity system and telephone. So that he would suffer as ordinary people are suffering. By then he was at Wilkinson Road with Minister Borbor Vandy. They then left with Peter Borbor Vandy, Vandy Kosia, SLA Corporal Bayoh and himself for the Lodge of the V.P, at Spur Road where they heard an . audience with the V.P, Dr. Albert Joe Demby.
The told him they were worried about the demonstration against Foday Sankoh since they came for peace. They were not happy with what the RUF did to peace keepers at Makeni. They then sat and wrote a letter which they sent to various people including the President and V.P. In cross-examination he said he was the RUF representative in the Joint Monitoring Commission (J.M.C.) in which he was to monitor the Peace process and the cease fire. On 8/5/2000 he was at No. 144 Wilkinson Road opposite Metropolitan Funeral Home. On 7th May, 2000 he was never in prison.
The 3rd Accused Alhaji Conteh alias Black Jesus evidence is one of a deliberate falsehood intended to deceive this court that he was not at 56 Spur Road Freetown but was at No. 9 Dan Street Freetown in the East End. His statement Exh. F. in which he narrated his role at 56 Spur Road, Freetown is what I do believe. He made up alibi was only framed to create an escape route.
7th accused Foday Kennie Lansana in his evidence on Oath said he was arrested on 7th May 2000 and taken to the compound of Brigedier Bioh where he spent the night and on 8th May 2000 he was in M.P. cells at Cockrill and that on 8th May, 2000 he was never at Foday Sankoh's house and never took part in any event at Spur Road. In cross-examination he said he was present in court which his statement was read and did complain that what he has said now was never in his statement. It was after his statement was read he realized it was committed. He did not complain to the court about this omission. Answering question from the Court he said he never complained to the court that the statement was obtained under duress. On 8/5/2000 he was in detention at Cockrill and on the same date he was taken from Cockrill to Pademba Road prisons. He was never at Pademba Road Prisons before 8th May, 2000.
DW1 Ansumana Mambu Porga said that he knows 7th accused Foday Kennie Lanasana and that in May 2000 they were both living
together at No. 12 Josiah Drive when'at night on 7th May 2000 armed men attacked them in their house and they escaped. Later 7th accused was arrested and when he was taken to Pademba Road Prisons on 10th May 2000 he met 7th accused there. He was arrested at 12 Josiah Drive. Malama. In cross-examination from Mr. Barber he said he was taken to Pademba Road Prisons on 10th May. He was arrested on 8th May 2000 at 7a.m. and 7th accused was arrested on 7th May, 2000 by armed men. He knew Bioh at Pademba Road Prisons. When 7th accused was arrested he ran away and came back later to 12 Josiah Driver where he was arrested. He was studying computer at compu-Tech Pultney Street.
DW2 Alex Momoh Kamara stated he knows the 12tn accused Mohamed Bockarie When he was arrested and taken to Kissy Police Station on 10th May 2000 but can't tell when he got there. They were taken to the C.I.D. and later to Pademba Road Prisons. In cross-examination D he said he was told he was an RUF suspect when he was arrested and taken to Kissy Police Station. The 12th accused said he was arrested at clay Factory Displaced Camp and he was arrested for being an herbalist. They were both taken from Kissy Police Station to the C.I.D. He was arrested for being a member of the RUF. This ended the case for the defence.
This court has held all along that being a member of RUF is not a Criminal offence and there is nothing more I can say on this.
I have carefully considered the entire evidence led in this matter both for the pros and the defence.
As regards 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, and 12th Accused i.e. Sheku Andrew Coomber, Andrew Kombay Prince Emerson Tu-Ventus Zachariah Adonis Donald Rhodes and Mohamed Bockarie I do not find them guilty and will acquit and discharge them.
I find the following accused persons guilty on all courts - 3rd, 4th, 5th ,6th, 7th, 10th and 11th accused persons guilty i.e. Alhaji Conteh alias Black Jesus Momoh Rogers, Ibrahim Blango, Augustine Bonga, Foday Kennie Lansana Sidie Koroma and Ibrahim Koroma on all Courts.
Mr. Osho-Williams in mitigation that Justice be tampered with mercy. These are young men who have learnt their lesson and should be given an opportunity in life.
3rd accused has nothing to say and beg for mercy 4th accused begs for mercy.
5th accused begs for mercy 6th accused begs for mercy 7th accused begs for mercy
10th accused begs for mercy 11th accused begs for mercy
Each Accused to serve a prison sentence of 10 years on the 15 counts Bench: The sentences should concurrently.
SIGNED - HON. MR. JUSTICE P.O. HAMILTON
CERTIFIED TRUE COPY MASTER AND REGISTRAR