Salone News

Prosecution Rebuffed as CDF Defence Ends

19 October 2006 at 04:08 | 395 views

Commentary

By Alfred Munda SamForay

Charles Francis Margai, the Lead Defence Counsel for Alieu Kondewa, in the matter of Prosecutor versus Sam Hinga Norman, Moinina Fofana and Alieu Kondewa, on Wednesday October 18 closed the CDF trial in chief. The last witness for the Defence gave their testimony for the former High Priest of the Kamajors who along with the CDF co-defendants is charged with eight counts of violations Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions (War Crimes) crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian laws. Charges include murder, mayhem, looting and recruitment of child soldiers allegedly committed by members of the Kamajor wing of the Civil Defence Forces.

Meanwhile, the special court for Sierra Leone, by unanimous vote, rejected a motion by the Prosecutor to call additional rebuttal witnesses. The court ruled that it has heard enough evidence in the matter and additional prosecution witnesses can add nothing more to the proceedings. The prosecution motion was thrown without the need for any arguments.

It appears to this observer that the Prosecutor was deliberately trying to prolong the case, muddy up the waters while at the same time trying to change the proverbial goal post when the game is almost over. The tactic evidently failed.

In another ruling by the three judge panel of the Trial Chamber, the court ordered Counsels for Defence and Prosecution to present written closing arguments in the case by 22 November, 2006 followed by oral arguments on 28 November. On 29 November, the Chamber will deliberate on the written and oral submissions and decide when the final verdict in the case will be released. We anticipate the final verdict in the matter in January of February 2007, nearly four years after Chief Norman was arrested.

The CDF Defence team for Second Accused, Moinina Fofana, called their last witnesses last week including Professor Daniel Hoffman, an American anthropologist and expert on civil militias who testified that the CDF was indeed not a military force as alleged by the prosecution but a group of civilian volunteers fighting in defence of their villages.

Final evidence for the Fofana defence was the SamForay Document addressing the role of Mr. Fofana in the CDF hierarchy. The prosecution had argued that statements in the 2001 CDF calendar produced by the former CDF support group, SLAM, of which this writer was Secretary General, indicated that Fofana had overall responsibility for war and peace in Sierra Leone. Quite to the contrary, Fofana as Director of War was simply an assistant to Mr. Norman who carried out combat duties as prescribed by the CDF High Command and President Kabbah as commander-in-Chief and Defence Minister of Sierra Leone. In any case, the SamForay Document asserted that the CDF calendar was simply a publicity and fund raising tool not a historical account of the war and was produced entirely in the United States without input from Mr. Foafana who is illiterate and had no knowledge of the contents of the calendar.

"The Chamber finds that the factual assertions contained in the SamFoary Document are relevant susceptible of collaboration in due course and will not prejudice any party by its admission.". The ruling was unanimous to admit the document under Rule 92bis of the Rules of Evidence.

In a separate but related matter, the court is still considering the matter of Mr. Norman’s health. Since this issue involves foreign government officials, the decision when made may not be released to the public due to international security considerations and Mr. Norman’s privacy and well being. Supporters and well wishers are, however, reminded that Mr. Norman’s health situation while serious is not of a life threatening nature. We are also pleased to inform that Mr.Fofana is now fully recovered from a recent bout with chickenpox and released from quarantine. All three CDF chiefs presently in detention are fairing well and thanking all friends and well wishers for moral and material support for themselves and the families..

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