Mohamed Sesay and others released after flawed evidence was used to deliver wrongful conviction in Sierra Leone

Law Courts building in Sierra Leone

When you have an inept Attorney General presiding over a politically sensitive case that involves internationally known criminals, things are sure to go wrong somewhere. Mohamed Sesay, a well established and reputable businessman was accused of being part of a conspiracy to arrange for a plane load of cocaine to land on the shores of Sierra Leone. The matter took an international twist that saw law enforcement agencies from the U.S. and U.K. scrambling to ensure that a few Columbian and Mexican drug lords implicated in the saga, were turned over to them to face justice in U.S. courts. In the ensuing fracas, Mohamed Sesay was accused of involvement and his house was searched and ransacked, but with no evidence found. Sesay was convicted on hearsay and flawed evidence, and used as a scapegoat to shield well placed individuals who may have sanctioned the plane’s landing in the first place.

The truth about the landing of a plane load of cocaine in Sierra Leone may never be known. But what is apparent is that the then Attorney General was reportedly bribed by drug cartels to influence the case. It is reported that he received well over $300,000 in exchange for influencing the course of the trial. It is incomprehensible that you will have the Chief Law Enforcement Official in a country, who himself is known to be corrupt and accused on several occasion of extortion, to preside over a case that saw innocent people convicted of crimes they never committed. One may wonder why the Attorney General in question, was sacked recently from the cabinet by the Head of State, who has made it abundantly clear that there is zero-tolerance of corruption in his administration. The pressure from stakeholders on the government to ensure there is a conviction was overwhelming. In fact international law enforcement officers were dispatched to Freetown to help in the investigations, and there was no report that crucial evidence was found in Sesay’s residence or on him to link him directly with the case.

This is indeed a travesty of justice. One that saw the liberty of a man taken from him without sufficient evidence to prove he was involved in a crime that others benefited from. The legal system in Sierra Leone has in the past being plagued by inept corruption and extortion, where despite the nature of a case, if money exchanged hands, a wrongful conviction is inevitable. The present government of Ernest Bai Koroma is taking steps to ensure that such acts of sabotage is eradicated by introducing new powers and strengthening existing ones of the Anti-Corruption Commission. An outstanding Sierra Leonean legal luminary, Joseph Kamara, has recently been appointed to head the commission.

Whether Mohamed Sesay should be compensated for such wrongful conviction is a matter for his defense team to ponder on, but what is important is that such anomaly in our justice system should never be allowed to surface, as it does result in the intolerable suffering of innocent people who may end up being psychological scarred for life , after enduring deplorable conditions during incarceration. We wish Mohamed Sesay and his family well and hope that he can take comfort in the fact that there are people who are convinced of his innocence.

© 2011 – 2014, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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