The defense council for the first accused, Lawyer Ady Macaulay on Tuesday April 9, 2019, produced and tendered additional documents on firing exercise as exhibits in the ongoing court martial trial at military headquarters, Cockerill in Freetown.
The ongoing trial is presided by the Judge Advocate, Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens and the court martial board: Lieutenant Colonel Kerifa Kamara as president of court martial board; Lieut. Col. A. B. Keita; Major Victor Momoh; Major Brima Ngavuwa Sama; and Major Sallieu Kallon.
This is the third time the first defense witness (DW1), Capt P. E. Kamara has taken the witness stand and his fourteenth appearances before the court martial.
The court martial is constituted in Freetown to hear a case of three soldiers: Captain Patrick E. Kamara, 1st accused; Samuel Conteh, Warrant Officer Class 1, 2nd accused; and Abu Bakarr Jalloh, Warrant Officer Class 2, 3rd accused. They are accused of willfully damaging service property; conspired to steal ammunition; and involved in a conduct prejudicial to the group order and military discipline.
Lawyer Macaulay shown several documents to the defense witness one (DW1), Captain P.E. Kamara which are relevant to the trial. The documents include diary, weapon requisition forms, letter of administrative instruction, firing exercises, email content, back-loading of faulty ammunition documents, among others, for identification.
The defense witness looked at his training dairy which he was using at the Forces Recognizant Unit. He said that he used the diary from October 5, 2007 to May 24, 2011. He produced and tendered relevant pages of the diary that are of interest to the court and were marked exhibit AQ 1-5.
He testified that the RPG firing exercise was done in 2010, at Benguma Training Center. The training was the second firing exercise of the former Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF).
Testifying on the trainings conducted for former Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF), he said that in 2011, the former JPGF fired all light weapons at the 3rd Brigade Battle School Firing Range at Yams Farm, Hastings, adding that the 12.7mm AA; RPG; and the 14.5mm AA were fired at the AFTC ranges at Benguma in Waterloo.
He said however, the 14.5mm AA rounds was not mounted because after the 2009 firing exercise, while returning, the military truck where it was mounted in 2009, develop a problem at Yams Farm. “We informed the Officer Commanding Electrical Unit, Major Daramy but now Colonel,” he emphasized.
“In 2011, the 14.5mm AA rounds was not mounted but it was towed to Benguma firing range by the Landover that was carrying the 12.7mm AA gun. Whether mounted or not, the 14.5mm AA rounds can still fire.”
He said that “in 2012, all the firing exercise where done at the AFTC ranges. He said that in 2009, 9mm pestle; 14.5mm AA; Rocket Propelling Grenade (RPG), and 12.7mm AA were fired. In 2010, all the weapons fired in 2009, were fired except for the 14.5mm AA rounds and the 12.7mm AA rounds. In 2011, the same weapons fired in 2009 were also fired in 2011.”
He added that in 2012, in addition to what was fired in 2010, they had a new weaponry system 7.62×39 gun called Light Sub Machine Gun (LSMG). “In 2013, all the weapons fired in 2012 were fired including the 12.7 and the Heavy Machine Gun (HMG). The HMG was a new weapon system we had that year. It was not even taken to the ranges because of mechanical failure. The RPG bomb was also fired,” he said.
He identified a set of documents as emails that he sent to his former boss. He said that he sent four different emails to his former boss on diverse dates in 2016. He said that the email was in respect of arms and ammunition for personnel, vehicles, G-10:98 stores, clothing, and personnel strength, among others. He produced and tendered it as exhibit AR-1-18.
He said that the emails were in connection to the handing over note that his former boss at the former JPGF Lieutenant Colonel Sheku Tejan Sesay commanded him to prepare on his behalf whilst studying in Ghana. “He was out of the country and he requested me to do this handing over note for him because he was supposed to do it before leaving for Ghana to study Staff Course,” the witness said.
Certain documents were shown to the witness titled: request for authority to test fire 14.5mm AA and 12.7mm AA; weapon requisition form; and authority to issue material at JPGF, among others. After identifying these documents, he said, “I have dealt with issues relating to these documents which are training exercises. In this particular 2009 training, I was assisting the then Captain Sheku Tejan Sesay, commander of former JPGF. “
Prosecution led by JAK Sesay objected on the grounds that the documents were not authored by the defense witness. He requested that the witness should explain how he came in contact with the documents since they are restricted documents. Prosecution added that they will want the defense counsel to lay proper foundation, adding that the witness should tell if he received it from someone. The Judge Advocate told the prosecution to record it so that they may include it in their address. “In your address, you will let the court to know whether the witness is competent to tender it,” the Judge said.
The defense council produced and tendered the document dated March 20, 2009, as exhibit AS1-6.
Looking at the document dated August 30, 2010 titled: Request for back-loading of faulty weapons, the defense witness said that the document was authored by him. Seven different set of documents were given to him which include: request for back-loading of faulty weapons authored by him; request for back-loading of faulty weapons; request for back-loading and replacement of faulty weapon dated November 17, 2014; and approval for back-loading and replacing of faulty weapon dated November 24, 2013; among others.
Recognizing the documents, the defense witness said that the first document dated August 30, 2010 has been his personal copy because he was the author of it, adding that he got the other page [page 2 of the same document] from the 3rd accused upon his return from Canada. He said the document was given to him sometime in January 2015, when he resumed. He said that the document indicated that the weapons were identified as faulty and they were back-loaded.
He said, “The document dated November 12, 2013; November 13, 2014; November 17, 2014; November 19, 2014; November 21, 2014; December 8, 2014 and January 12, 2015 were all handed over to him by his former boss, Lieutenant Colonel Sheku Tejan Sesay. He cannot recall the specific date the documents were handed to him, but he said that it was in 2015.”
Identifying a document titled: Special Stores Register, he said, “I also got these documents from the 3rd accused.” The document was produced and tendered as exhibit AT 1-16.
Looking at a document dated March 14, 2011, titled: Administrative Instruction for JPGF which is authored by Major S.T. Sesay now Lieutenant Colonel; he said, “I got it from the 2nd accused since both of us were having almost the same tasks, which is, to follow up with resources from the 3rd Brigade.” The document was produced and tendered as exhibit AU 1-3. He testified, “This document was for the third training and firing exercise conducted in 2011. I took part in this firing exercise and RPG, 12.7mm AA rounds and 14.5mm AA rounds were fired. This was the last training.”
He also looked at three documents: two dated April 23, 2012; one on training exercise and the other document is a letter of Administrative Instruction; whilst the other dated April 5, 2012. The documents were produced and tendered as exhibit AV 1-11. He said that this was the continuation of the last training which lasted for seven days. He added that they did test firing of all support weapons like 14.5mm AA; 12.7mm AA; RPG. “Heavy weapons were fired with the exception of 14.5 and 12.7mm AA rounds because there were no first and second lines of ammunition in the store. Those that were available were there for deployment and they were mounted. So, these two weapons were not fired because no request for the ammunition was made and the ammunition in the presidential store were not issue, that is why in the following year  ammunition request were made at the Headquarters Joint Force Command. A requisition was made and signed by my former boss for 12.7mm AA and 14.5mm AA rounds to be issued,” he said.
Explaining another document, he said, “Page one is ammunition stock card 7.62×39mm; page two is a monthly check that my former boss was instructing me to do on the 7.62×9mm and that has connection to the Nato Stock Card; Page three is the same check on 14.5 and 12.7mm AA rounds. I got this document from the 2nd accused who was in charge of the store during the ammunition check, to enable me to do my task. I cannot recall who I got the second page from.” The document was produced and tendered as exhibit AW 1-4.
Explaining exhibit AW-1, he said, “AW1 is an ammunition stock card. We have always maintained this file recording for all ammunition issued to the former JPGF for the operational store for operation and training purposes. Under the unit of account, we have the date that we received and issued. The Issue Voucher and Receive Voucher column indicate whether it is issued from Headquarter 3rd Brigade or Joint Force Command.”
He testified that the stock is never balanced because it is always expended on operations and trainings.
He added, “For the check in March 8, 2008, I noticed problems in the consignor and consignee column. The ammunition was issued to former JPGF before I was posted there. It was indicated Supply Services Squadron (SSS) in the consignor and consignee column and it was supposed to be 3rd Headquarters Garrison instead of SSS. Also under the consignor/ consignee column that shows JPGF troop, it was not reflected in any other document. Also, there was no document where personnel sign for ammunition when on duty.
“The columns CP 3, Sporter one, and Sporter three were all deployments where four to five soldiers were deployed. So, who will claim responsibility if ammunition is missing? he asked. I took this up with my former boss, and the 2nd accused and I tried to harmonize the document and introduce a ledger system where a personnel will individually sign for the operational ammunition on a daily basis when on duty. This system was followed throughout by the 2nd accused and the 2nd accused ensured that personnel that were not on duty return their arms and ammunition by signing in the ledger indicating that date of return and the type of ammunition and quantity,” he said.
The court is adjourned to Tuesday April 16, 2019.