Appeal Court Judge Says Rape Is Degrading, An Act of Aggression Against a Woman

Main Law Courts Building in Freetown County, 16th September, 2023: Court of Appeal Judge, Honourable Justice Alhaji Mohamed Momoh-Jah Stevens has described the act of rape as degrading and a naked act of aggression committed against a woman.

The Honourable Judge was addressing the Court while presiding over a case of Conspiracy and Rape.

“The offence is being committed in a degrading manner, molesting a female adult because she was alone the night… An act I see as naked act of aggression committed against a peaceful woman,” said Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens.

The Accused persons; Saidu Sesay, Alfred Bangura and Foday Sesay were indicted on Two Counts of Conspiracy contrary to law and Rape contrary to Section 6 of Sexual Offences Act, 2012 Act No. 12 of 2012.

It is alleged that the 1st accused Saidu Sesay, 2nd accused Alfred Bangura and 3rd accused Foday Sesay on the 19th October 2018, at Freetown in the Western Area of the Republic of Sierra Leone had sexual intercourse with Mary (not real name) without her consent.

According to Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens, the case file was before another Court but it was re-assigned to him by the Honourable Chief Justice during the just concluded Judicial Week aimed at clearing backlog of cases and to increase access to justice. The Judicial Week was supported by the UNDP and partners.

Explaining her ordeal, the Victim a business woman, said she was returning to her residence on the date of the allegation between 1am to 2am from watching movie in the Compound of a neighbor. As soon as she entered her premise, she was suddenly attacked by the Accused persons. The Victim further testified that she was stripped naked pinned down and the 1st Accused penetrated his penis into her vagina whilst she was being physically suppressed by the 2nd and 3rd Accused Persons.

She said the 2nd and 3rd Accused also penetrated their penis into her vagina. She said she was rescued by a neighbour who heard her screaming, rushed to her premise and shouted ‘thieves’. She told the Court that she knows the Accused persons very well as they are also resident in the same neighbourhood.

When the trial commenced, the 3rd Accused was absent, and a Bench Warrant was ordered for his arrest. The Prosecution on the subsequent date, 31st August 2023 decided to make an application for a separate trial after the 3rd Accused was again absent and has not been arrested.

The application for a Separate Trial was made by the State Counsel, Y.I. Sesay pursuant to Section 148(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1965 for the 1st and 2nd Accused to be tried separately from the 3rd Accused who has jumped bail which was earlier granted to him on compassionate grounds by the other Court because of ill health.

The application was granted, accordingly the 1st and 2nd Accused were severed from the 3rd Accused.

By the due process in criminal jurisprudence in Sierra Leone, the charges must again be put to the 1st and 2nd Accused which were done, read and explained but they pleaded not guilty.

The endorsed medical report before the Court indicated that the Victim was suffering from pain in her vagina.

In the case of the Defence, the 1st Accused relied on the Statement he made to the Police which is merely denial with no defence in support of the said denial. The 2nd Accused also relied on the Voluntary Cautioned Statement he made to the Police. Like the 1st Accused, the 2nd Accused stated no Defence in his denial. No witnesses for the Defence as well.

“This is a simple case to decide as the Prosecution has led witnesses in support of its case, there is Medical Endorsed report and photographic evidence taken of the scene of crime,” said Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens, adding that, “the Offence was committed against an adult victim without her consent by having a sexual intercourse contrary to Section 6 of the Sexual Offences 2012.”

Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens affirmed that the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

In the Allocutus, the 1st and 2nd Accused begged for mercy. The Defence Counsel M.Karimu makes a plea in mitigation by asking the Court to temper justice with mercy.

Delivering his sentence, the Court of Appeal Judge, Honourable Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens sentenced convicts, Saidu Sesay and Alfred Bangura to Five Years for the offence of Conspiracy. For the offence of Rape they were also sentenced to Fifteen years imprisonment.

“In all the 1st and 2nd convicted persons will serve a jail term of Twenty years each,” he concluded.

In his Consequential Orders, the Court of Appeal Judge said, “I order that time spent in remand during trial must be counted by the Correctional Service whilst both convicts are serving their jail term.”

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