orious Samura testifies
Sorious Samura has testified as the second witness in the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) case involving the Aljazeera film on Timber logging against Momoh Kemoh Conteh before Justice Charm at High Court No 2.
Led in evidence by the ACC prosecutor Reginald Fynn, Sorious Samura described himself as a journalist living in the UK. He said he knew the accused Momoh Conteh as the person who was in the film that he and his colleagues made in Sierra Leone about Timber logging.
He testified about how he flew into the country to make this film along with three other colleagues who were his director, Mike Healey and two co-presenters Annas Arimeyor Annas and Billal. Samura said the “problem about timber and deforestation in Sierra Leone is not a revelation” adding that he and his team knew that deforestation and corruption in the timber industry was a problem that was affecting Sierra Leone.
What happened he said was that last year he and his colleagues set up a strand called Africa Investigates. Explaining what a strand means he said that all television companies have different titles or names for their categories of films. So they called their own category Africa Investigates and the essence of that production strand was to give African Journalists the opportunity to tell their own story. The Timber investigation he said was one of the proposals sent in by a Sierra Leonean and that is how they decided it was good thing to come here (meaning Sierra Leone).
After further investigation Sorious Samura said he flew into the country to talk to the relevant authorities. He explained that he came in because he was aware how difficult it was to do investigative work here “and the President is one of the persons I spoke to, but I did not go into detail, I just told him I am here to work on corruption and he gave me his blessings so I went back to London and reported to my team.”
He went on to testify that he and his team flew into the country on two occasions to make this film. The very first time he said was in October 2011 “we filmed for two weeks and went back and we came in again on the 30th October and filmed for three days up to 1st November and went out again. He explained that in their investigative work they use two methods normal cameras and hidden cameras. On the second visit he said they used both normal and hidden cameras. He testified that he came in with his colleagues Annas and Billal and because Sierra Leoneans knew him (Sorious Samura) and the because of the “scoop” he wanted he knew that he will not be able to appear in person. Sorious said he directed his two colleagues to the accused person of whom he had been told would “get us access to the Vice President.”
Sorious said he got the accused’s number and gave it to his colleagues because he wanted his colleagues to set up a meeting and also to see how the accused can help them with the proposed company which they wanted to set up.
When they flew into the country for the second time he said he got his colleagues to initiate contact with the accused person. He went on “I hired a couple of vehicles, my colleagues were in one and I was in another and we drove to the meeting point, but I stayed out.”
After the meetings he said the materials that had been filmed and the documents that had been signed were passed over to him. The meeting he said took place in a safe house that he had rented for four days. He added “upon receiving the documents and the film my team and I decided to leave the country and we went straight to London.” In London he said he and his director, the editor and the executive director who was responsible for overseeing the work edited the film.
Sorious disclosed that he and his team also met with Alex Mansaray and the Vice President and these meetings were also filmed.
At this point “Exhibit E” was introduced which was a recording of the documentary on a CD. The whole 30 mins documentary was shown and it was stopped intermittently for Sorious to identify the accused which he did at 17mins 47 sec.
Prosecutor Fynn then asked Sorious Samura what was the meaning of montage. He explained that it was a way of setting up a scene to let people know what to expect. In another art form like a book it would be like the forward. He said they used a montage in the film and normally it lasts for about one second to about a minute adding that “there is no fixed time for it.”
The matter was then adjourned for cross examination.