Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cocaine trial defence may apply for new magistrate

By Ben Samuel Turay and Kevin Hill

Lead defence attorney and President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, C.F. Edwards, has stated that unless Principal Magistrate Tarwallie Deen allows for a transfer of two ill accused to a medical facility he will apply for a transfer to a new magistrate court.

The defence filed a motion appealing for the bail and transfer of two defendants to a secure medical facility after both began suffering from serious medical ailments. Principal Magistrate Tarwallie Deen rejected the application outright.

“The ruling given was out of place with our application. We applied that following the doctor’s evidence the defendants should be taken out for medical treatment. We will apply for a transfer to another magistrate court”, said Mr. Edwards.

Last Wednesday the defence held a walk-out protest in reaction to the rejection of the motion. The protest may continue as the defence team seeks to bring further attention to the plight of two of the accused who are suffering from poor health.

According to lead defence attorney, C.F. Edwards, who is also President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association the walk-out was staged to bring attention to a situation they say is a violation of their clients’ rights.

The conditions in which the accused are held should not violate international standards. Rule 60(1) of the Standard Minimum Rules states that “The regime of the institution should seek to minimize any differences between prison life and life at liberty which tend to lessen the responsibility of the prisoners or the respect due to their dignity as human beings”.

By not providing the two accused proper medical treatment the state may be in violation of sec. 20(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, which states “No person shall be subject to any form of torture or any punishment or other treatment which is inhuman or degrading”.

According to Prinicipal Magistrate Tarwallie Deen the protests of the defence are unfounded. “They decided to walk out because, according to them were applying for bail and I refused bail; (granting or refusing) bail is at the discretion of the court.”

When asked how the court will proceed if the defence continues their walk-out protest, he said, “We will proceed or we will give them one adjournment date to get new legal representation.”

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