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12 arraigned for conspiracy to commit felony

Aug 21, 2013, 10:58 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Twelve suspects were Monday paraded before Magistrate Secka of the Brikama Magistrates’ Court, charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, to wit, arson.

They are Lamin B. Jarju, Saikou Ceesay, Saikou Sulayman Drammeh, Ebrima Badjie, Modou Damba, Ebrima Gassama, Modou Lamin Conteh, Alagie Manneh, Sulayman Colley, Kebba Njie, Baba Gaye, and Ebrima Bah.

According to the charge sheet read in court, the accused persons, on 20 February 2013, at Makumbaya village, jointly conspired among themselves to commit a felony, to wit, arson.

However, the defence counsel, Borry Touray, objected to the charge sheet, arguing that the particulars of offence did not disclose any specific act which may be competent for the court to exercise jurisdiction.

Counsel further argued that the charge that was constituted had not given the accused persons the eligibility to know what arson was, adding that there was no circumstance of arson at all.

Counsel therefore added that the accused persons would be prejudiced to take their plea to the charge that was not existent and was from the information that the jurisdiction was invoked because the court did not even know what the offence was.

At that juncture, the prosecuting officer, Inspector Camara, applied to amend the charge sheet which was accordingly granted without any objection from the defence counsel.

Inspector Camara also applied for the case to be transferred to the High Court in Banjul on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction.

However, the prosecution’s application to have the matter transferred was overruled by the presiding magistrate.

The prosecutor then substituted and brought in new charge which contained two counts of conspiracy and arson.

The particulars of offence on count one read that the accused persons, on 20 February 2013, at Makumbaya village, jointly conspired among themselves to commit a felony.

Count two read that on the same date and place, the accused persons conspired and set fire on 275 cashew trees valued at D75,000, being the property of one Francis Mendy.

Defence counsel Borry Touray objected to count two on the grounds that count two was incomplete because the product before the court was a tree and Section 305 was referring to vegetables.

The presiding magistrate upheld the defence counsel’s objection and the prosecution then amended the section accordingly.

The accused persons all denied the charges.

Inspector Camara said the prosecution was objecting to bail for the accused persons on the grounds that they had a lot of cases in their station involving the accused persons, which required investigations, and by releasing them on bail they might tamper with the investigations.

He said the first accused, Lamin B. Jarju, knew a lot of people and places and if released on bail, he might interfere with the investigation.

In response, defence counsel Borry Touray showed the court a medical certificate belonging to the first accused, showing general body pain and torture allegedly inflicted on him by the security.

Counsel Touray at length urged the court to grant the accused bail, as it was their constitutional right to be granted bail.

The court consequently granted the accused persons bail of D250,000 each with a Gambian surety each who must deposit the sum with the court’s registrar, and also deposit a valid biometric ID card.

Hearing continues on 3 September 2013.