Jul 14, 2008, 9:19 AM
Eight former military officers, two civilians and a former director-general of the Gambia Immigration Department, who were all convicted in connection with the 2006 abortive coup attempt yesterday appeared before the Gambia Court of Appeal.
Captain Bunja Darboe, Captain Wassa Camara, Captain Yahya Darboe, and 2nd Lt. Pharing Sanyang each sentenced to life imprisonment; Capt Abdou Karim Jah, Cpl Samba Bah both sentenced to 25 years in prison; Capt Pierre John Mendy, L/Cpl Babou Janha and Private Alagie Nying all sentenced to 10 years in jail, appeared before Justice Joseph Wowo.
Also appearing before the appeal court were Tamsir Jasseh, former director-general of the Gambia Immigration Department, Alieu Jobe, former accountant general and Omar Faal Keita all serving 20 years in prison.
Their appearance stems from an initiative of the Gambia Court of Appeal to hear at least 164 appeals within this week alone, with a view to clearing the backlog of appeal cases, and “for justice to be done”.
However, their case could not be heard as the records of proceedings from the general court martial that convicted some of them were said to be not ready.
Escorted amid tight security to court, the convicts are appealing against the jail terms imposed on them by the court martial and high court in
The court is expected to hear their appeals separately, when the records of proceedings are ready.
At the opening of the case on Monday, the president of the appeal court, Justice Joseph Wowo, assisted by two other judges, told the appellants that the records of proceedings from the court martial were not available.
Without the records of proceedings, it will be difficult for the court to know what transpired during the proceedings of their case, he said.
“I will notify you, so that you know when the records of proceedings are ready, so that the appeal could be heard,” the presiding judge told the appellants.
The state, he added, will be also asked to make a follow up or put pressure to have the records of proceedings from court martial ready.
“In the interest of justice, I will make an order for the Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces to provide the court with records of proceedings from the court martial for onward transmission to the court in order to expedite the appeal,” he said.
Justice Wowo also made an order for the registrar at the high court to provide the court of appeal with the records of proceedings in the case of Tamsir Jasseh, Alieu Jobe and Omar Faal Keita, as soon as possible.
After making the order, Captain Wassa Camara rose from his seat and appealed to the judge for them to be allowed access to visit by their families, so that their families can arrange the services of a lawyer.
According to the jailed army officer, they are allowed visitors once in every four months, which he said will make it difficult to get a lawyer.
The judge adjourned the case indefinitely, until the court has access to the records of proceedings.