Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin has struck out the election petition filed by defeated UDP Freetown candidate Lee Mark Chang against the PUP elected area representative Francis Fonseca, in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 23.
Chang’s attorney Michael Young had offered to withdraw the case but was unable to do so, because court procedures for withdrawing such a petition require one month’s notice published in the Government Gazette.
The Chief Justice struck out the case for lack of evidence and awarded the $7,500 costs to Fonseca.
In his initial claim, Chang had alleged that Fonseca’s agents had bribed voters.
The election results were close, which Chang claimed might have been different if Fonseca’s agents had not bribed voters.
But the case could not proceed because several of the witnesses failed to follow through with the filing of the evidence papers.
Fonseca’s attorney, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay opined to reporters after the hearing that it was a disgrace that Chang was not prepared to accept the people’s decision. They spoke very loudly and rejected his candidacy.
Courtenay recalled that his team had filed two applications before the court to strike out the case, and Chang’s legal team had conceded that it had no witnesses.
He expressed the view that the witnesses were all Chang’s employees who knew the allegations were untrue.
“On the 18th they filed their application to dismiss, indicating to us and to the court that they didn’t have the evidence to support the petition,” Courtenay said.
Young said the six witnesses had sworn before Commissioners of the Supreme Court that their evidence was true, but they appeared to have gotten “cold feet”.
Young revealed that after the court had ordered that fresh witness’ statements be taken, the witnesses showed themselves unwilling to sign.
Chang has expressed the view that it is regrettable that witnesses who had volunteered the statements about bribery were now unwilling to come forward.
Young pointed out that those witnesses who admit that they have been bribed, can also face problems with the law.