Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has confirmed that former President Ernest Bai Koroma will be permitted to leave the country for specialized medical treatment, despite his government’s strong objections.

Koroma, facing treason charges stemming from a failed coup attempt in November, had requested temporary leave through his lawyers during a court hearing on January 17th.

“The Attorney General vehemently opposed the application,” Bio said in a national address on Thursday. He emphasized, however, that “on the principle of separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution, it is a matter entirely for the courts to determine.”

Ultimately, the court sided with Koroma, granting him leave while suspending his trial until his return. Bio, while reiterating his government’s initial opposition, stressed that he respects the court’s decision and will uphold the rule of law.

However, the President said this humanitarian gesture does not in any way detract from the seriousness of the ongoing trials. “It reinforces our position that the trial is not a political witch hunt. But one aimed at unraveling the truth behind the events of November 26th, 2023.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.