Justice Miatta M. Samba of the Freetown High Court has ruled that irregularities in obtaining evidence does not rendered the evidence inadmissible and therefore authorized the tendering of 199 page document which lawyers representing Alie Kabba had earlier objected to it not to be tendered in evidence.
“The general rule in respect for admissibility of evidence is in two fold; one; it must be relevant in the matter before the court, secondly, the person tendering the documents must be competent or has being the custodian of it” she stated.
However, she said leading to the first rule of admissibility of evidence, the court noted the matter is a criminal trial of Bigamy and the said documents is relevant to the matter.
She quoted the Mohammedan marriage Act, chapter 96 of the laws of Sierra Leone 1960 and chapter 95 of the Christiana marriage Act including the Civil marriage Act, chapter 97 of the same laws. “I wouldn’t go into the manner of the documents,” she adds.
The trial judge emphasized that no matter the way the evidence was obtained or retrieved whether legally or illegally it can be used in a trial and that the court is not concerned about the way its obtained. Citing a Ghanaian case law to support her statement.
Justice Samba said PW1 is competent to tender the documents because he has been in custody of it since it was brought into the country. She made reference to several case law, adding “the witness is a member of the Sierra Leone Police who requested for the documents and he has been in possession of these documents so, he is competent to tender”.
She disagreed with lawyers representing Alie Kabba that the competent person to tender the documents must be the the author, receipts or the addressee.
“Prosecuting counsels had argued that the documents is authentic and was obtained from Notary Republic, in Chicago court,” she maintained.
The voluminous documents was tendered and marked as exhibit E1- 199.
Responding to questions asked by lawyer Francis Ben Keifala under cross-examination PW1, DPC 11591 Alie Mansaray told the court that he has being a Police for over ten years. He said he recalled when the then Minister of Local government now Minister of Lands and Country Planning and the Environment, reported an alleged Bigamy case to him at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at Pademba Road in Freetown.
He said he obtained statement from Diana Finda Konomanyi in respect of the allegations and that she further informed him that her marriage with Alie Kabba had be dissolved through judiciary dissolution based on her request.
Mansaray claimed that during the course of his investigation several attempts were made to get the sides of the former wife of Kabba but all efforts proved abortive.
“The defendant told me that he had orally dissolved his marriage long since with Edith Cline Kabba in a divorcee proceeding in Chicago, United States of America at the time he wedded Finda Diana Konomanyi, but I was unable to visit America to cross check,” he stated.
PW1 explained that after arresting Alie Kabba on the 23rd December 2015 and released him on bail on the 24th of the same month, he charged him to court on the 30th December 2015. “I have no knowledge about international law and I did not receive any advice before charging the matter to court,” he adds.
He however said that he cannot produce a copy of the letter which was allegedly written by the Police to the court in Chicago requesting for the judgment in respect of the oral dissolution of Kabba’s marriage with Edith.
At the conclusion, Justice Samba admonished counsels on both sides to desist from hiding documents from their colleagues in criminal matters.
“I care about the delivery of justice, this is not a game therefore, there’s no need to hide documents in criminal proceedings. Lawyers should share documents among themselves with regards their matter,” she advised.
Meanwhile, the matter was adjourned to Tuesday 26th April 2016 for the prosecution to take their next witness.