Treason Trial: State House Car wash boy testifies

On Thursday 4th June, 2020, twelfth prosecution witness, Francis Lansana Saidu, who washes cars at State House testified in the ongoing treason trial between the state and Alfred Palo Conteh, Saa Anthony Sinnah and George Hughes. Saidu told the court that the car wash is located at the car park at State House. Saidu said he first saw Palo at State House on 16th March 2020, and that on that day he was the only person at the state house car park when Palo arrived with his Range Rover vehicle and he directed him to park his car. He said the first accused got down the car without speaking to him and entered state house building. Saidu mentioned that Palo did not take along his brown bag when he entered the State House building during his first visit, and that he observed that the first accused’s car was dirty so he decided to wash the car because that’s their normal tactics. He said the first accused took sometime in the building and later when he came out, upon noticing that he has washed his car the first accused gave him fifteen thousand Leones and drove off. On Monday 19th March 2020, Saidu said the first accused drove into State House with his Range Rover again but at this time there were four of them at the State House car park. “We rushed at the car to wash it but I observed that we are too much for the one vehicle so I decided to step back and leave the three boys to do the work.” He said after the three boys told the first accused that they want to wash the car for him the first accused got down the car and ordered the boys to remove the car mat which they did. “With his brown bag in his hand, he dressed up and tightened his belt and matched to the entrance of state house. He said after the boys finished washing the mats they saw the first accused come out of state house with a security and he gave the boys twenty thousand Leones and drove out with the security personnel,” he stated. Earlier, Retired Brigadier General, Tamba Rodic Alieu, Commissioner, Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms testified as thirteenth prosecution witness in the ongoing treason trial. Commissioner Alieu said he has served in the commission for one year seven months and the second accused who is his deputy has served the commission for twelve years. He told the court he has a cordial relationship with his deputy – “in fact I tap from his expertise.” He said when he’s not around he writes the secretary to the president for permission to allow his deputy to act in his absence and the permission is granted through letters. Commissioner Alieu added that as soon as he receives a reply from the President’s secretary he will hand over the registrar stamp that authenticate all license that comes from the commission on small arms for both fresh and renewal licenses to his deputy, and upon return to the office he will retrieve the stamp from his deputy. On 3rd March 2020, Commissioner Allieu said he went to the office but later left for 34 military hospital for medical check-up and upon his return on 4th March 2020 he met his deputy and Alfred Palo Conteh on the corridor leading to his office and he was informed by his deputy that Palo was at the office to renew his pistol but he (second accused) has done it. “I did not say anything because of the confidence I have in his expertise,” he mentioned. While explaining the criteria in acquiring a pistol license, Commissioner Alieu stressed that one should not take a loaded weapon to a public place- he said such can also be found in the Arms Regulation’s Act of 2014. He said it would take someone three to seven days to register a pistol, but for renewal one might take a day. Alieu mentioned that three quarters of his work at the Commission has been done by the second accused because he has been on medical most time in his one year seven months in office. Two statements were later tendered in court for the Commissioner- one in March and the other in May. Meanwhile, the prosecution mistakenly tendered a statement dated 30 May 2020 in which Mohamed K. Alieu who had testified on 25th May 2020 as first prosecution witness in the ongoing treason trial interviewed the head of Sierra Leone Arms Commission. Lawyer Roland Wright, counsel representing the second accused, told the court that Mohamed K. Alieu after testifying in court on 25 May 2020 went again to conduct an interview for the Commissioner on 30 May 2020. Lawyer Wright emotionally raised an objection that a witness who had testified in court have no right to redo an interview for a witness who has not testified yet. While confronting the prosecution, Lawyer Wright told Lawyer Adrian Fisher in a loud tone that he should not defend ‘such misconduct.’ The prosecution said they will close their case on Monday and the defence said they will make a no case submission on the same day. Matter has been adjourned to Monday, 8th June 2020 for next hearing.

By Abdulrahman Koroma