The Legal Aid Board is providing legal representation to fifteen of the twenty-seven soldiers in the ongoing Court martial in Freetown.
Twelve of the twenty-seven soldiers are being represented by private lawyers.
The soldiers were arraigned on 88 count charges following their involvement in the attempted coup plot of 26 November 2023. The charges range from mutiny to aiding the enemy, failure to suppress a mutiny, stealing of public or service property, committing a civilian offence.
Speaking on the provision of free legal representation to soldiers in the ongoing court martial, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles noted that the Board took the decision to represent all the indigent soldiers because they have a right to one.
‘The Legal Aid Act 2012 establishing the Legal Aid Board guarantees free legal services to persons who cannot accord to them’ she said. She added that even though the Board does not have enough lawyers on its staff, it will ensure no soldier goes unrepresented. ‘We will continue to prioritise legal aid provision to indigent persons to ensure we target those who need the services most such as remanded inmates, women and children,’ she stressed.
In another development, the Legal Aid Board provided legal representation to a total of 34 indigent accused persons in High Court trials in Freetown, Kabala and Kono.
Two of the accused persons tried in Freetown were represented by Legal Aid Counsel Randy Bangura, 18 in Kabala by Counsel Thanu Jalloh and 14 in Kono by Alpha O. Kamara.
The accused persons were arraigned on multiple offences ranging from Conspiracy to Robbery with Aggravation, Sexual Penetration, Arson, House Breaking and Larceny.
18 of the 34 accused persons were either acquitted and discharged or cautioned and discharged. These include 14 accused persons from Kono, two from Freetown and two from Kabala. The remaining 16 matters are ongoing.
The two accused from Freetown – Mohamed Kamara and Osman Kamara were standing trial on Conspiracy and Robbery with Aggravation among others before the Honourable Justice Sulaiman Bah.
They were discharged on Monday 15th January, 2024 for Want of Prosecution.