Salone News

Hinga Norman Affair: The Week of All Weeks

21 March 2006 at 02:30 | 488 views

Commentary

By Alfred Munda SamForay

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, . it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, .. the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. (Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities.)

So for those who have become morbidly tired of all the noise surrounding the Hinga Norman affair, this week may be the week to turn off the hearing aids or go into hibernation or self-induced coma. For if there are any bowels of compassion for the wives and children of the indicted CDF leaders; if there is any element of shame left at State House or any testicular fortitude at the Supreme Court or the so-called special court for Sierra Leone, this week may be the week many of us have been looking forward to for the past three years. It is the tale of two trials, one pitting the world against Sierra Leone war hero Sam Hinga Norman, and the other pitting Sam Hinga Norman against the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

On Tuesday, 21 March, the Supreme Court will meet to deliberate or perhaps give a ruling on whether the SLPP acted unconstitutionally when it met last September to elect a sitting Vice President as Party Leader in contravention of various provisions of the Sierra Leone constitution which states in so many words that: "No political party shall have as a leader a person who is for the time being the President, the Vice-President, a Minister or a Deputy Minister under the provisions of this Constitution." If the court rules according to law rather than out of fear or favour, then Solomon Berewa and the entire SLPP leadership elected at the SLPP Delegates Conference in Makeni are, as we say in Indiana, up the creek with no canoe.

Whatever the eventual outcome of the case, it will be a landmark decision and either a shift into high gear or a shift into reverse for democracy in Sierra Leone. For Chief Hinga Norman and his beloved SLPP, it could also be that "the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone", biblically speaking.

Meanwhile at the other trial on the other end of town, where former British child soldier, Hinga Norman, has now become the first person in history to be tried for recruiting and enlisting persons under the age of 15 into armed conflict, the drama between Chief Hinga Norman and his accusers continue. The Trial Chamber meets on Wednesday to review Norman’s witness list. The prosecution continues to demand written statements from Mr. Norman’s remaining witnesses. Norman refuses to budge. If the court wants a witness statement, says Norman, it should first get it from Defence Witness No. 1, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Mr. Kabbah so far has refused to appear as a witness and the court has yet to rule whether Kabbah has a just cause why he should not appear as a witness for Mr. Norman as demanded by a subpoena ad testificadum, recently submitted by Counsels for Defence for Chief Norman and co-defendant, Moinina Fofana. It is like two wise guys going into a suicide pact with neither willing to take the first plunge. So the charade continues. If the court rules that Kabbah must appear as a witness, as we expect them to, that will only be the beginning of woes for Mr. Kabbah who dragged the UN-backed tribunal to Sierra Leone.

Some time this week we expect the Hinga Norman Defence to present clear and convincing evidence to the court that Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, as Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of Sierra Leone did knowingly and with forethought sign and execute documents compelling Hinga Norman and others under Kabbah’s command to plan, fund and execute various aspects of the war contrary to Mr. Kabbah’s previous statements before the TRC. We also expect that the Chamber will be availed with clear and convincing evidence that Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, contrary to previous statements, did knowingly and with forethought plan and direct commanders of the CDF to execute various battles during the war. And that that Mr. Kabbah did command ECOMOG to bomb and terrorize civilian populations in Freetown and other parts of the country in the same way, Chief Hinga Norman is alleged to have directed the destruction of civilian property in Koribondo in pursuit of the AFRC.

We also expect that the international community will be presented with clear and convincing evidence that the so-called special court for Sierra Leone in concert with the government of Sierra Leone used funds provided by international donors to recruit, arm and deploy elements of the Civil Defence Forces and other ex-combatants to wage war on the territory of the Republic of Liberia and to destabilize the government of Charles Gbankay Taylor. We also assume that some of those ex-combatants included persons fifteen years of age or younger in violation of various statues of ordinary humanitarian law.

It will also be relayed to the international community that similar funds were used by the court to recruit and deploy mercenaries to unlawfully fly a fixed wing aircraft to the Republic of Togo in a failed attempt to effect the arrest of alleged accomplices of Charles Taylor. And that the government of Sierra Leone did allow Sierra Leonean territory to be used for insurgency and terrorist activities against the people of Liberia in contravention of international laws. And that such violations of international law contributed to the involvement of Charles Taylor in the Sierra Leone civil war and the destabilization of the sub-region.

In short, we expect this week that the grease will hit the frying pot; the push will get to the shove and those who actually bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes in Sierra Leone and Liberia will be exposed for what they are. And if the Sierra Leone Supreme Court acts according to law and fundamental principles of justice, some of those people will not only be exposed, but will also be out of work.

Alfred Munda SamForay,
Hinga Norman-CDF Defence Fund &
The Committee to Elect Hinga Norman

Photo: Chief Hinga Norman.
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