NIA 9 trial: 'Court cannot be held to ransom'

Friday, June 30, 2017

Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul yesterday said that the court could not be held to ransom and could not wait for anybody.

Justice Sillah-Camara was responding to the application made by defence counsel B. Secka, who held brief for lawyer C.E. Mene, who had travelled out of the jurisdiction.

The trial judge said the court adjourned the matter for two weeks at the last adjourned date at the instance of the defence.

She pointed out that the hearing of the matter was forestalled, whilst the application filed by the 1st accused defence counsel C.E. Mene challenging the representation of the prosecution team was still pending before the court.

The judge said it was not in the interest of justice for the court to entertain what she described as an unnecessary delay in criminal trial.

Defence Counsel B. Secka had told the court that his instruction was to sought for a short adjournment as the lead counsel was out of the jurisdiction and would be back soon to continue where he stopped.

In his submission, lead counsel for the prosecution, A.A.B. Gaye, said the prosecution team needed to know their fate, noting that their representation was at stake.

For his part, Lawyer M.B. Johnson Richards, counsel for the 3rd accused, Saihou Omar Jeng, told the court that even though they are not part of those opposing the representation of the prosecution team but that steps are being taken concerning the matter.

Lawyer E. A. Gomez, counsel for the 2nd accused, Richard Leese Loiuse Gomez, submitted that the case was a high profile case that has captured the imagination of everybody in the country and outside.

Gomez indicated that he was opposed to an adjournment of the case, noting that adjourning the matter again would flagrantly violate the accused persons’ right.

He said lawyer Mene should have properly brief his colleague about the issue before the court instead of coming to seek for an adjournment.

Lawyer A.A.B. Gaye said in the interest of justice, since the court was being held to ransom, the proper thing the court should do was to order for briefs to be filed.

The presiding judge then ordered that briefs be filed and each party was given 10 days to file their respective briefs.

The matter was adjourned until 18 July 2017, for adoption.

It would be recalled that the accused persons are Yankuba Badjie, Loiuse Richards Leese Gomez, Saihou Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansary, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang.

They are charged with multiple offences including conspiracy to murder, murder, making false documents amongst others.

The State which was initially represented by officials from the Attorney Generals Chamber’s and Ministry of Justice has called two witnesses and were cross-examined by the defence.

The move by the state by appointing some senior private legal practitioners to take over the case sparked opposition from the defence, particularly the first accused person defence team.

Author: Bruce Asemota