Special Criminal Court in Banjul presided over by Justice O. Ottaba yesterday
refused to revoke the bail of GNPC officials.
They were charged with eight counts ranging from conspiracy to commit felony, neglect of official and disobedience of statutory duty, as well as for destroying evidence.
The accused persons are Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Seedy Kanyi, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Momodou Taal, Louie Moses Mendy and Noah Touray.
When the case was called, DPP S.H. Barkun appeared for the state alongside A. Mendy.
The defendants were represented by senior counsel A.A.B. Gaye, S.M. Tambadou, L.S. Camara, A.N.D. Bensouda, H.S. Sabally, R.Y. Mendy, B.S. Touray, B. Conteh, Y. Senghore, B. Bouye, P. Gomez, Mene, S. Sillah, and E.E. Chimmeh.
Delivering his ruling on the DPP’s application to revoke the bail of the accused persons, Justice Ottaba said when the accused persons pleaded not guilty, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) S.H. Barkun asked the court to revoke the bail of the accused persons, on the grounds that there was an amended information before the court.
In response, counsel Sisay-Sabally argued that the DPP’s application was not supported by any law, but that it was based on the DPP’s opinion. She said the application was irrelevant.
Justice Ottaba said the other lawyers also associated themselves with the submission of counsel Sabally.
“I have critically examined the bail conditions of the accused persons. It is pertinent to observe that the accused persons had fulfilled the bail conditions and were regular in court.”
He said the accused persons’ bail could only be revoked when they jumped bail or commit similar offence, among other things.
He said the DPP asked the court to revoke the bail of the accused persons due to the fact that an amended charge has been filed.
The trial judge further said the amount of dollars in the previous charge was more than the amount in the amended charge, which has been reduced.
He said the 3rd accused person, Fafa Sanyang, whose name was not included in the amount on the previous charge, has now been included in the amended charge.
He, therefore, reviewed his bail conditions and granted him bail of US$1.3 million with Gambian sureties residing within the jurisdiction of the court with a landed property.
For the other accused persons, who are on bail, the trial judge, said: “I find and hold that there are no circumstances that can warrant the court to revoke the bail of the accused persons. The DPP’s application is hereby dismissed.”
After the ruling, the DPP told the court that the state was ready to proceed with the hearing of the matter.
The trial judge then said there are three other bail applications pending before the court, if it could be considered first.
Senior Counsel Gaye then told the court that they had just been served with the affidavit in opposition and would like to reply to it.
It was granted by the court, but no time was given to them.
Proceeding with hearing of the matter, Bakary Darboe, a Police Chief Inspector attached to the Major Crime Unit at the Police Headquarters in Banjul testified as the first prosecution witness.
In his testimony, he said he knew Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Pa Modou Taal, Louie Moses Mendy, and Muntaga Momodou Sallah.
He said he obtained cautionary statements from them in relation to an investigation.
He said on 25th, 26th and 27th August 2016, he obtained cautionary statements from those accused persons.
“I first invited them and introduced myself to them. I informed them that they are here to offer a statement. I read the cautionary wordings to them. They understood very well and signed. After which they opted to write their own statements,” he said.
He said he would identify the statements because it bears his name.
The statements were shown to him and he identified them in court.
The DPP then applied to tender them in court.
Counsel for the accused persons did not object to tendering of the statements, which were tendered in court and marked in evidence as exhibits.
Hearing continues on 2 November 2016, from 4pm to 6pm.