First Prosecution witness, Detective Police Constable 11591 Alie Mansaray, last Friday tendered document he said are divorce court proceedings of Alie and Edith Cline Kabba, after a heated debate between the defence and prosecution as to the authenticity of the said document.
The argument erupted after defence counsel Francis Ben Kelfala last Wednesday, 20 April, objected to the prosecution tendering the US Court divorce proceedings between the accused person and his former wife, Edith Cline Kabba, on the grounds that the document emanated a foreign court without any supporting document. He argued that the witness was neither the author nor the addressee and that there was no evidence before the court that the said document was in his custody.
But State Counsel A. J. M. Bockarie contended that the witness was custodian of the document after it was delivered to him by INTERPOL, an authentic source according to him.
After listening to both sides, Justice Miatta Samba adjourned the matter for ruling.
In her ruling last Friday, 22 April, Justice Samba noted that the general rule in law was that any document that should be tendered in court must be relevant to that case and that the person tendering it must be competent to do so.
She said the court was mindful of the fact that the accused was before the court for a criminal offence of bigamy, as contained in Chapter 96 of the Muhammad Marriage Act of 1961 and that of Chapter 95 of the Christian and Chapter 97 of the Civil Marriage Act, of same year.
She told the court that the relevance of the document and the person tendering it are the two limbs that they should focused on, noting that she was of the firm conviction that irregularity in evidence does not render it void before a court of law, thus allowing the witness to tender the document as according to her the witness was competent.
“The law makes it clear that any person tendering a document must be custodian, addressee, or the author. The evidence before me is that the witness is a member of the police force and investigating office of the matter. I hold that he is competent and the document is relevant to this trial,” she said.
“We must firmly accept the proposition that an irregularity in obtaining evidence does not renders it inadmissible,” she added.
The witness was cross-examined by the defence counsel.
The accused, a flag bearer aspirant of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, is charged with bigamy, making false declaration on oath and making false declaration on license and civil marriage. He was charged to court in December 2015 after police detained him for few days. He denies all the charges. Meanwhile, the matter was adjourned to 26 April, 2016.