A Sierra Leone military court has charged a captain and 13 soldiers with attempt to kidnap the country’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma and murder the defence minister, which amounted to mutiny.
The charge was coming eight months after they were arrested for planning a protest against the president. The men, who all pleaded not guilty, were arrested last August in the northern town of Makeni for planning a protest during a visit by President Ernest Bai Koroma to his hometown.
The Judge, Otto During, said the soldiers had intended to kidnap the president and murder the defence minister during the visit, which was later cancelled. He said the account has not been independently verified and details of the event leading to the soldiers’ arrests were not addressed in court yesterday.
“Bail was refused the suspects in the interest of public safety and the safety of the accused persons themselves. Also, there is the risk of flight on the part of the suspects.”
If found guilty, the men could face a range of punishments, from demotion in rank to death by firing squad.
A source that witnessed the trial said the group looked healthy and relaxed and several of them waved and smiled to friends and family members that were present.