The Prosecution could not prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt due to inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Also, their testimonies did not corroborate the evidence of the Pathologist, Dr. Owiss Koroma who attributed the cause of death to manual strangulation meaning Francis Hafner was choked to death. The prosecution witnesses in their testimonies said the diseased was beaten, his cloths were torn and had wounds all over his body.
Legal Aid Board lawyer, Cheryl Sembie said they mounted a strong defence by taking advantage of the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses most of who used to hang out with Francis Hafner now deceased at Common Ground on Robert Street in Freetown.
According to the particular of offence, the seven officers had instructions from the Operations Officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Musa of the Central Police Station on 29 May 2015 to conduct a raid on Common Ground on Robert Street following a distress call from residents that a group of people were smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, causing noise and disturbing the peace.
Three suspects were arrested including Hafner. The suspects spent the night in cell at the Central Police Station in Freetown. They were released on bail the following day. Hafner died two days later and his family blamed his death on the treatment meted out on him by the police during his arrest.
The officers were arrested on 6 July 2015 for murdering Hafner. They spent 40 days in the cell at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters on Pademba Road and were released without charge. They were rearrested on 2 September 2015 and charged with manslaughter. They were consequently remanded at the Pademba Correctional Center. They were granted bail on 17 November 2015 and the matter committed to the High Court by Magistrate Komba Kamanda, but had to remain in prison because they could not meet the stiff bail conditions.
The Legal Aid Board started providing them legal assistance to the officers in December 2015 through which they were able to meet the bail conditions. The assistance continued until the matter was concluded on November 25.
In a related development, the seven officers have called on the Board’s Executive Director, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles to assist with their reinstatement into the police now that they have been proven not guilty.
Without wasting any time, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles led the officers to the police headquarters on George on Friday, 25 November 2016 to discuss the issue with the Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu who was not in his office at the time.
Ms. Carlton –Hanciles has vowed to press on until they are reinstated. ‘They must be reinstated because the court has proven they are innocent,’ she said. ‘They should have been suspended and not dismissed in the first place.’