A Sierra Leonean former minister has been charged with treason for walking into the president’s house with a gun ahead of a meeting on coronavirus preparedness.
Ex-Defence Minister Paolo Conteh was charged with 16 counts of treason in a Freetown court on Monday.
The charges were read out to him, but the case was adjourned and he was denied bail.
Mr Conteh was arrested on 19 March following the incident.
He said he had declared that he was carrying a gun to the security officers at the entrance of State House. But BBC reporter Umaru Fofana quotes government officials as saying the weapon was discovered on the ex-minister.
Umaru Fofana wrote:
Sierra Leone’s ex defense minister & head of the Ebola response in 2015, Paolo Conteh has been charged with treason.
He’s to be arraigned before court shortly, according to state counsel, Adrian Fisher. This, after the alleged seizure of a gun from him on 19th March at the State House.
…While he said he’d declared the licensed gun to the security at the entrance, some government officials said it was discovered on him.
He’d been invited by President Julius Maada Bio for the second time, to discuss the response to the coronavirus threat to the country.
Local media say the constitution states that carrying a gun to a meeting with the president is treason.
On Monday, President Julius Maada Bio instructed the current defence minister to head a team for coronavirus preparedness.
Sierra Leone is yet to report any confirmed cases of the virus.