September 28, 2022

By Gabriel Kai Moses

A portrait of the Former President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has been tendered in evidence in a case between Sylvia Blyden and the state presided over by Magistrate Hannah Bonnie of Pa Demba Road Court in Freetown.

Dr Sylvia Blyden, the Awareness Times Publisher and former Minister was picked up from her residence at Cockle Bay by state security personnel for alleged seditious and defamatory libel as well as publication of false news among others.

Led in evidence by State Counsel, the Police exhibit clerk tendered series of items said to have been recovered from Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s residence.

Most prominent amongst them was a picture of the former president, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

It is unclear what the State found to be criminal about the former president’s picture as the State Counsel, Lawyer Yusif I. Sesay only had the Exhibit Clerk tendered the photo without explaining how the picture offended the State.

Other items including mobile phones, laptop computers and among others were also tendered in evidence.

Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Hon. Charles Francis Margai who is representing Dr. Blyden did not cross-examine the Exhibit Clerk, but objected to the tendering of the picture and the other items on several grounds.

The objections submitted by the defence counsel were overruled by the presiding magistrate, Hannah Bonnie.

Later, the first Prosecution Witness, Police Superintendent Mohamed Kuba Alieu was cross-examined by Lawyer Margai before he was stood down for a possible recall.

Lawyer Margai pointed out that the search warrants which the witness said he executed at the residence of the former minister placed limitations on what the Police could do at the house.

The witness, under the cross-examination of Counsel Margai, confessed that although the Search Warrants only authorized the Police to take away items containing subversive materials, at the time they took the laptops and mobile phones, the police had no evidence of anything subversive in them. Lawyer Margai also got the Witness to confess that after they took the laptops and phones, the police proceeded to “examine them in the absence of Dr. Blyden”.

The Witness has already confessed to the court that even though Dr. Blyden requested that she should be present when they are examining her laptops and the phones, the Police deliberately chose to open the laptops and phones and tampered with them in the absence of Dr. Sylvia Blyden.

Lawyer Margai also asked several questions around the circumstances of the arrest and 22 days detention of Dr. Sylvia Blyden.

He got the Police Witness to confess that there was no arrest warrant ever issued for the arrest of Dr. Blyden.

As the police witness, M.K. Alieu initially tried to evade the question, he was professionally handled by Lawyer Charles Margai to the delight of the entire courtroom.

The police witness eventually confessed that “there was never any arrest warrant to effect the arrest of Dr. Sylvia Blyden.”

Lawyer Charles Margai also got the police to confess that the circumstances of the arrest were cloudy to which the police witness said that he used his “discretion” to arrest the former minister and detain her for 22 days without charging her to court.

The matter has been adjourned for two weeks until Monday July 13th.

However, another case has been brought by the State against Dr. Sylvia Blyden at the High Court, but there is an order that the details of the case should never be publicly discussed.