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Laj case sets two judicial precedents in the Sierra Leone justice system

Updated: Mar 27

Rapper Laj, real name Alhaji Amadu Bah has been sentenced to imprisonment after a guilty verdict for four count charges yesterday at High court. The charges include Inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm contrary to Section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, conspiracy, robbery with aggravation contrary to section 23 (1) (a) of the Larceny Act of 1916 as amended to malicious damage contrary to section 51 of the malicious damage Act of 1861 and assault.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison for the three counts and four years three months for the fourth charge, to be served concurrently.

The case which lasted nine months set two Judicial precedents in the Sierra Leone Justice system.

This was the first time for a sentencing hearing to be had. This practice though common in several countries had never been done in Sierra Leone. Sentencing hearing is a separate court session held to hear from the defendant on his perception of his charges, trial and verdict. It is a time for the court to assess whether the defendant is aware of their action, their reformation (if any) and hearing will generally have some impact on the sentence to be given.

The hearing statement delivered by the Rapper in which he highlighted his travails and expressed his desire to live freely has been said to be one full of sorrow and defeat. It is however unclear if this had any impact on his sentencing of nine years.

Another judicial precedent set, is the compensation directed to be given to victims. This has never been done before for a criminal case in Sierra Leone, as fines were always directed to the state.

In this case, a total of twenty thousand new Leones (twenty million old leones) was directed to be given to the state and twenty to be shared among the three victims.

According to a source within the court system, in most cases, the suffering of the victims are disregarded after the court has carried out its role but this act of compensation was meant to show consideration for victims who suffered injustice.

This case, verdict and sentence has resulted in an avalanche of opinions and reactions from ordinary citizens and entertainers alike, ranging from sadness, anger and "i told you so".


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