Courtmartial Trial: army corporal reveals how he investigated his colleague after 26 November attack

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By Feima Sesay

The 37th Prosecution witness Corporal 18181969 Dambissa Komba has on Wednesday 29th May 2024 revealed that the 21 accused Staff Sergeant Ibrahim Thorley Bangura was not in Makeni and Manafel village as alleged on the 26th November 2023.

He said this in his examination in chief before Judge Advocate Mark Ngegba and members of the board.

The witness led in evidence by Major Issa Tapia Pawah Bangura said he is attached to the 4 infantry brigade Teckoh Barracks Makeni as the investigator.

Explaining further , he said as an investigator his roles are to obtained report from complaint, obtained witness statement from both withesses and complainants and voluntary caution stamenta from suspects.

On 8 January 2024, he said he was on duty at Teckoh Barracks when he got an instruction from the Commander officer Major AH Tarawally to go to a village called Manafel inorder to investigate whether RSLAF 18172098 Staff Sergeant Ibrahim Thorley Bangura was in the said village on the 24th November 2023 prior to the alleged failed coup.

He said on reaching at the said village at Matotoka Yeilleh road Tonkolili District, he was opportuned to meet with the village chief Mr Santigie Kamara, the youth leader Mr Ibrahim Conteh and Mr John Bangura an adviser to the town chief.
The witness said he explained to them his purpose for his visit to the village, adding that he asked them if they knew whether the accused family members were staying in the said village and said in reply they responded yes.

Corporal Komba said he pleaded with them to have their statement in respect of what they had said if at all the accused was in the said village on the 24th November 2023.

According to the statement given to him by the town chief Mr. Santigie Kamara, he said he was told that they could not recalled seeing the accused on that day and that for the past five years they have not set eyes on him.
The witness said the reason for the said visit to the village was to assertained the alibi made by staff sergeant Thorley Bangura that he was in the said village on the 24th November 2023.

According to the witness he further obtained statements from the youth leader in the village Mr Ibrahim Conteh and Mr. John Bangura and that the said statement was reduced into a report.
In continuation of his evidence he said he later returned to Makeni and on the same day, he spoke with the chief of staff 4 infantry brigade Teckoh Barracks Colonel E M Smart who confirmed to him that staff sergeant Thorley Bangura was not present at the head quarters on the 26th November 2023 even though there was a call for all personell to report for duty.

During cross examination by lawyer I A Kamara for the 21st accused Ibrahim Thorley Bangura the witness was asked whether at anytime he investigated the accused, he said he did not directly investigate him and did not have the opportunity to speak to the investigators who investigated him.

The witness confirmed that he was only asked to investigate the alibi made by the accused that he was in Manafel village on the 24th November 2023.

When asked as to how long he has been an investigator he said for the past five years .

Lawyer Kamara asked the witness that as an experienced investigator if he was able to verify whether the alibi were made by the accused, the witness said yes, adding that he did base on the instruction given to him by the brigade commander orally.

He said he knew the accused to be one of the securities assigned to the former president Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and that on the 26th November 2023 he failed to report for duty.

When he was questioned that at the time of the alleged alibi which is the 24th November 2023, the accused was deployed at the resident of former President Ernest Bai Koroma, the witness in reply said not to his knowledge.

He said during the investigation he was informed that the residence of the former president was the accused official deployment.

The witness when asked if he knew whether the accused was recalled from the residence of the former president, the witness said the accused was recalled to report to the brigade on the 26th November 2023.

The witness revealed that the accused told them during the investigation that he went to the said village for a burial ceremony.

Lawyer Kamara asked the witness whether death anniversary and burial ceremony are family related, the witness reply in the afirmative, adding that whiles at the village he was told by the villagers that the accused residence in the said village has delapidated and has no family member in the said village.

State Counsel lawyer Y S Koroma requested for an Adjournment in order to reflect on the evidence and consult with the AG and the DPP inorder to take another line of action.
The matter was adjourned to the 31st May 2024 for further hearing whiles the accused persons were remanded in prison.

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