On 22 April 2017, Philip Koroma, was at the house of the Headman, James Harding, in Matini, near Waterloo in the Western Rural District. Koroma was allegedly detained within the house prior to undergoing a forced initiation into the secret Poro Society.
James Sesay and three others, Pa Sembu Koroma, Alie Conteh, Fatt Turay, went to the Headman’s house to rescue Koroma. Harding exited the house but returned an hour later with a large gang of men carrying sticks and stones. The agitated crowd collected the four men and dragged them into the Poro bush. The crowd beat and butchered the victims in front of the Poro shrine and killed three of the would-be rescuers.
James Sesay was the only survivor. Pa Sembu Koroma, Alie Conteh and Fatt Turay were killed. A team of police officers brought Sesay to the Waterloo Police Station on the 24 of April. Sesay was able to identify three of the men, out of the large group, Sonny Caulker the Councillor, James Harding the Community Headman and Agibu Sawaneh.
The three, Caulker, Harding and Sawaneh, were arraigned before Magistrate Albert Moody, on 4 October 2017, to answer to two counts of Conspiracy to Murder and Murder contrary to the Offences against a Persons Act.
In his testimony, on the 4 October 2017, the Scene of Crime Officer at the Waterloo Police Station, Mohamed Jalloh, said himself and his team visited the scene of crime on 4 May 2017, where Sesay, the only survivor, identified the shrine and the location of the alleged murders. He said he took photos of the scene and collected a coat and a shirt to serve as evidence.
On 11 October 2017, the accused appeared before Magistrate Albert Moody of the Freetown Magistrate Court No.1. Testifying in Court, prosecution witness 3 (PW3) Philip Koroma, said, “They took me to a societal forest at Matindi village and I had to sleep there for two days.” He noted, an old man of the societal team asked the rest of the members in the forest about the individual that sell him to them. He pointed out, “Samuel removed Le1,000 from his pocket and gave it to the old man admitting that he is the one that brought him into the forest.
He said after both of his parents heard the news of him being at the forest, they were angry. His Dad, now deceased, Sembu Koroma, decided to go to the forest. He stated that as soon as people who were in the forest got a tip of his dad coming to the forest, he noted that they took him to another forest where he also slept for a day.
He furthered in the morning, Samuel, with two police officers, came to the forest and rescued him. “While I was making a statement at the Waterloo Police Station, PW 1, James Sesay told me that they have killed my dad in the forest.”
Magistrate Moody remanded the accused at the Male Correctional Centre and adjourned the matter to the 18 October 2017.
By Mohamed J Bah
Thursday October 12, 2017.