Salone News

Charles Margai Arrested, Again!

27 February 2006 at 21:43 | 1054 views

By Karamoh Kabba, Patriotic Vanguard Bureau Chief, USA

At least five thousand people were out on the streets of Freetown today demonstrating against the arrest of Charles Margai, the interim leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (P.M.D.C.) by the Sierra Leone police, between the hours of 12 noon and 1 pm.

The arrest was an execution of a warrant signed by Magistrate Shyllon of court number three in Freetown for Margai’s alleged failure to appear in court on the 6th of February on charges stemming from an earlier incident in Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone. In November 2005, S.L.P.P. government officials reactING to threats of violence against Vice President Berewa, arrested, incarcerated and charged Charles Margai.

According to Festus Kpukumu, the Secretary General of the PMDC in the Western region, Margai had challenged the Sierra Leone judiciary’s decision for moving the case from Bo to Freetown. He was said to be awaiting a response from the court.

“I was appalled by the action of the police when they came to arrest Margai stating that ‘he failed to attend court’,” the secretary said. “But we managed to control the crowd, who were out in support of their leader for an action by the ruling party government that they perceived to be politically motivated, from entering the court building. Though, many made it into the courtroom, yet thousands more hung around its periphery anxious to hear the outcome of the arrest".

Margai’s office is situated in the business district of the city, and the arrest spread like wild fire.

Responding to the incident, Margai stated that it was a blatant violation of his rights to arrest him.

When ASP Kabia and ASP Koroma went to Margai’s office to arrest him, Margai argued that they must have a warrant to do so. Evidently, they did not have any because they had to make a second trip to make the arrest. They returned with ASP Kargbo, Superintendent Karefa, Superintendent Kamara, Superintendent Keita and constable Coker to arrest Margai.

Festus who was in Margai’s office throughout the execution of the arrest told me that a foreign journalist was in Margai’s office, conducting a video interview with Margai, and videoed the whole incident. "And that journalist is from “Rice N Peace organization,” he said.

MoiJueh Kai Kai, a coordinator of the PMDC branch in London who is in Sierra Leone on official business told me that Margai told the court he was not notified that his motion against the moving of the case was not granted nor denied, and the court did not notify him that the proceeding would go on as scheduled.

Margai however appeared before Magistrate Shyllon today, and was released upon condition to appear in court at 9 am tomorrow.

Photo: Charles Margai