Judge urges state to report on gang raping trial

Friday, February 02, 2018

The Presiding Judge Simeon A. Abi of Basse High Court on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, urged the State to report to the said court in February sitting in their next line of action in the criminal trial involving the State and Balema Sohna and Muhammed Hydara.

Dembo Mahanera, Balema Sohna and Muhammed Hydara are alleged to have ganged raped a girl under the age of 17 years (name withheld) without her consent on the 12 June, 2016, at Miseraba Mariama village in the Upper River Region.

Dembo Mahanera was alleged to have escaped from the police custody in Basse, Balema Sohna and Muhammed Hydara were subsequently arraigned before the court.

The prosecution called six witnesses to prove the charge against the remaining two accused persons.

The two accused persons opened their defence and testified before the court in November sitting and adjourned the matter to December for the accused, Balema Sohna to call his witness.

The court observed in December 2017 sitting that the two accused persons were absent and the matter was adjourned to January 2018 sitting.

During Monday’s sitting, Momodou Jallow, the surety of the first accused, Balema Sohna told the court that the accused was under custody in Senegal and was aware of the consequences if he fails to ensure the attendance of the accused.

He begged the court to oblige him time to consult his family so as to know the next step he would take.

The presiding judge disclosed that it is the obligation of the surety to ensure the attendance of the 1st accused he bailed in court.

He said the fact that the 1st accused is under custody in another country (jurisdiction) is not by anyway different if the accused had jumped bail for other reasons.

He pointed out that the effect is the same as he is absent from court, noting that the trial cannot proceed in his absence.

Justice Abi said the surety could not have even with all due diligence averted the arrest of the 1st accused person in Senegal, noting that any and every  effort of the surety towards securing the attendance of the accused in court may only bear fruits when the due process of law has been followed in Senegal.

He stated that unless the state choose to abandon the charge against the 1st accused, it will be unreasonable to keep the 2nd accused, Muhammed Hydara hanging on a joint charge with the 1st accused whose attendance cannot in anyway be guaranteed.

Justice Abi urges the state to advise themselves on the next line of action as to what to do about the surety of the 1st accused.

The case was then adjourned to the 26 February, 2018, for mention and report by the state on their next line of action.

Author: Bruce Asemota in Basse