''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 7

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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One individual's name featured prominently in reports of what happened on Monday 16th March 2009. It is that of Idrissa Kamara otherwise called "Leatherboot" who appeared before us as CW60.SLPP headquarters under attack

He is a retired military officer, enlisted into the police force as a Sergeant on 10th January, 2008. He is a close security to His Excellency the President. CW60 was out of the country when the events of 13th March, 2009 took place. He only returned home on Sunday 15th March, 2009. He was on duty at State House on Monday 16th March during the morning hours. He said whilst at work he heard a pandemonium around the City Council and the SLPP premises. His Excellency the President was in his office at State House. He said he saw people running and because of the proximity of the scene to the State House, he decided to proceed there to investigate.

Without informing His Excellency the President about what he had heard, CW60 immediately left his office and moved to the scene. He said he went only with a van to the scene, where he found CW2 with other police officers quite senior to him. On the arrival of CW60 at the scene, the APC/City Council youths hailed him "Leatherboot, Leatherboot". When the SLPP supporters, especially the women who were cooking, heard the name Leatherboot, we were told that they were scared and worried.

There is immense evidence from CW47, CW48, CW49, CW50, that "Leatherboot" (CW60) aggravated the situation, and he admitted entering SLPP compound but denied breaking or damaging the chain-lock at the main SLPP gate. CW12, Panda, stated that Leatherboot hit him with a pistol he allegedly had.

CW60 denied possession of any weapon. CW47 said CW60 and CW61 with APC thugs attacked them and took away their moneys. CW47 said she was indecently assaulted by CW60 and CW61 coupled with APC thugs. CW49 said she was indecently assaulted by CW60 and CW61 and raped by different youths on the instructions of CW61.

CW48 did not know the youths who raped her. CW49 said she saw CW60 break the SLPP gate lock and enter the compound. CW49 said youths drank the wine and other drinks in the canteen and raped her. She said that one of the rapists forced a bottle into her vagina and felt severe pain. CW50 also saw Leatherboot (CW60) and Foday Government Wharf at the scene. CW60 and CW61 entered the canteen and seized all that they had including cell phones and moneys.

CW50 was also indecently assaulted but not raped.

Leatherboot, CW60, had no right to leave his assigned job at State House for the scene. He took no permission from his seniors at State House. He did not inform His Excellency the President about his movements. It is clear from the evidence from the various witnesses mentioned above that Leatherboot had an ulterior motive and certainly carried out that motive to his satisfaction.

A man like CW60 is an unworthy material for a State House job, especially as close-security bodyguard to His Excellency the President.

Mohamed Kabba Conteh, CW14 told us that he met "Leatherboot" CW60 inside the compound of the SLPP headquarters when he arrived there. He asked what he (Leatherboot) was doing there and then asked him to leave. For "Leatherboot" CW60, he said he heard of the chaos at the SLPP office while he was at State House and went there in a vehicle with about two men in it. He has been recognized as a former military officer who is presently a police sergeant attached to the President's body guard. He told us that he went there on his own to find out what was happening as he considered it his duty. He did not seek permission of anyone including His Excellency the President, who he should be protecting. According to him, the Chief Security Officer, his boss, was not at work that day.

Other witnesses as CW12, CW44, CW47, CW49, CW50 made statements on the presence of this "Leatherboot" at the scene on 16th March 2009. CW12 and CW44 were very precise and stated that he forced open the gate to the SLPP compound. This was a gate that we were told was initially locked with a chain and padlock. Those in the compound from the evidence, were under siege as CW61 put it. They could not have opened the gate because we were told that when the attackers were unable to enter, some scaled over the wall fence. Leatherboot was in the compound at the height of the violence no one inside could have opened the gate for him.

There was no one who saw "Leatherboot" assisting the police or the fire force, though he said he walked in front of the fire engine to the premises and that sparked shouts of "Leatherboot" while stones were being thrown around. The story seems incredible that someone would walk in front of a fire engine at that time.This picture says a lot and we say many thanks to the online publication that published it.

In answer to the panel as to his business at the scene, he said as a police officer it was his duty to go there as there was trouble. He is a sergeant and went with two officers, he did not go directly to the Headquarters to report and get help, or contact the AIG Operations. CW14 said he met "Leatherboot" in the SLPP compound but did not say he was trying to put the situation under control. Otherwise we expect he would have asked him and his two men to join those who had been sent to reinforce the personnel there, and not to send him away.

We are amazed that a Police Officer charged with the responsibility of protecting the President as bodyguard would leave State House unguarded without permission, with about two men and proceed to the scene without the knowledge of anyone in authority. It portrays irresponsibility, disregard of authority, sign of recklessness, and indiscipline.

We have been able to see a video recording of the scenes at the SLPP headquarters on 16th March 2009 (attached to this report as Appendix B). While we actually saw the said "Leatherboot" at the scene, he was not in anyway seen to be trying to bring the situation under control.

There is no doubt that those men and women in the SLPP headquarters were shaken and in fear for their lives. By the evidence before us, they took refuge at the top of the building and would only give themselves up when they observed that United Nations Personnel were there to get them out of the building.

Those who were taken out by the police were not treated in a way that showed respect for human dignity. They were made to sit on the ground in the compound while majority of those who vandalized the premises and looted properties escaped.

When CW14 said at the time he arrived he found "Leatherboot" in the SLPP compound, the question is asked as to how he entered and why he was requested to leave. CW14, we observe is a Chief Superintendent of Police and could not have asked Leatherboot what he was doing there and to leave if he had found him trying to quell the violence.

While we acknowledge the duty of every police officer to assists in maintaining peace, we do not agree with "Leatherboot" CW60 that it was in pursuancce of his duty that he left State House unguarded in government vehicle to the Government Wharf area. If CW60, "Leatherboot", was sincerely carrying out his duties as a police officer he would have been contacting superior officers to send reinforcement to the scene while assisting to bring the situation under control. Definitely, if he was doing that CW14 and CW2 would not have asked him to leave when they needed every assistance they could get at the time. We do not accept Leatherboot's story and are of the view that he was concealing a lot of facts which could have assisted us further in this inquiry.These were the SLPP victims that Leatherboot, President Koroma's buddy ordered that they be locked up in prison. In this condition.

It appears to us that the police took those in the SLPP headquarters for questioning in the belief that they were responsible for the violence. That seemed ludicrous as even Foday Mansaray (CW61) said the building was under siege. The accounts given by CW44 Princess Konteh, CW47 Nasu Sheku, CW48 Mariama Massaquoi, CW19 Aminata Koroma, leaves no doubt that they, as women, were assaulted and abused. They definitely had a traumatic experience. The attack must therefore have come entirely from outside.

CW12, Tamba Sandy Panda was seen in the video recording as one of those in the building. His account is one of the most vivid descriptions of the terrifying and humiliating situations in the building, yet the police took himself and others to the Pademba Road Prisons on the orders of "Leatherboot". Seeing their condition, CW12 said the Prisons refused to accept them before they were finally taken to the CID headquarters.

The Prisons and OSD headquarters quite rightly refused to accept these persons seeing their injuries which called for immediate medical attention first.

Furthermore, that is not the procedure to detain persons in prison or a police headquarters. Certainly "Leatherboot", CW60 hadn't the authority he may have thought he had to order people to be taken to Pademba Road Prisons without any warrant or court order. If the police under the command of CW14 had not acted sternly the situation could have deteriorated and spread beyond the SLPP headquarters.


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