Criminal proceedings have been of serious challenge over the years as accused in the Provinces had to be transported to Freetown to face trial. But their worries ended when the High Court of Sierra Leone decentralized its operations on Criminal matters. This opportunity has been utilized by Legal Aid Board; the board have represented a total of 126 Cases in the ongoing special Criminal sitting in 3 districts across the country.
In Northwest region, Port Loko District, the Counsels representing their Clients through the Legal Aid Board have been very busy. Through their legal arguments the have adequately represented a good number of Client which has earned them some accolades from family members and paralegal staffs. A family member whose son was acquitted after spending months in Prison was full of praises for the Legal Aid Board Lawyers. According to him, he never knew that legal aid board are working on free Pro Bondo Cases and unconditional service after getting the perception that, every lawyer is worth millions before standing on anyone behalf as a defense Attorney.
Two of the Counsels at the court representing legal aid board are Mohamed Korie and Ibrahim Samba; “we have so far represented a total of 50 cases tried in the Port Loko session presided over by Justice Samuel O. Taylor unconditional to accused person” Says lawyer Mohamed Korie. These include 13 Sexual Penetration, 8 murder, 18 larceny, 2 wounding with intent, 2 fraudulent conversion, 3 robbery, 2 human trafficking, 1 forgery and 1 dangerous riding cases. The Counsels have secured bail for 5 accused persons which number includes those whose lawyers failed to represent them without any excuse. And have secured 3 discharged of not guilty. Even though 2 people by the names of Abu Bakarr Kamara and Abdulai Kamara have been sentenced to death by hanging on murder offences; others are still on trial.
“At the ongoing sessions of the criminal high court a total of 182 cases will be tried at the criminal sessions in the three districts across the Region, these comprise 72 in Port Loko, 67 in Kailahun and 43 cases in the Pujehun” registrar commented during the opening session of the High Court. Counsels for both the State and legal aid board have asked for extension of period in the time previously stated lasting for two weeks through the judiciary of Sierra Leone since there are many cases still left on touch with evidences that need more attention to bring in principal witness before verdict accord especially cases of murder, sexual penetration etc. “I am going to consult the registry at the judiciary and by extension to the Chief justice for possible extension depending if deem necessary before the end of the stated days since court is still in progress.” Says Mohamed Bangura District registrar.