Successful appeal strengthens case for abolition

19Dec08

A court in Sierra Leone has overturned treason convictions for 11 men. It is the first successful appeal against a death penalty in that country, opening the possibility of an eventual end to capital punishment there.

“It was like a miracle, I could not believe it. We were all filled with emotions when the judge said that we were acquitted and discharged,” said Hindolo Trye, one of those acquitted.

The charges laid against 10 members of the former armed opposition groups, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and one civilian related to an armed attack on the armoury at Wellington barracks, on the outskirts of Freetown in January 2003, in an apparent attempt to overthrow the government of President Kabbah.

“The acquittal of the eleven condemned prisoners is phenomenal,” said Brima Sheriff, the director of Amnesty International in Sierra Leone. “This is the very first time in the history of this country that condemned prisoners had won their appeal and released especially for the conviction of treason.”

Sadly, Osho Williams, the lawyer and All Peoples’ Congress member of parliament who represented the eleven convicted prisoners during their 2004 trial and subsequent appeal, died just a few days after winning this victory.

Read full article >
12th December 2008

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