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3 cocaine traffickers jailed, one acquitted and discharged

Dec 2, 2010, 11:45 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The narcotics court at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea yesterday convicted and sentenced one Muminatou Sissay to one-year mandatory jail term and a fine of D1.5 million in default to serve an additional 5 years in prison.

The court also convicted and sentenced Fernando Varela and Micheal Ephram Chiduben to a mandatory jail term of 1year 6 months each and a fine of D2 million each in default to serve an additional 5 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the third accused, Gordon Barsel, was acquitted and discharged on the grounds that none of the prosecution witness’ testimonies implicated him in any way.

“It would not be fair for the court to punish him for a crime he did not commit,” Magistrate Nkea stated.

The court ordered that a Land Rover –Free Lander, which is currently in the custody of the NDEA with Matriculation T508 RVE GB, which was used to transport the said cocaine be forfeited to the state.

It also ordered that an amount of €18,500, which was found with the accused persons be forfeited to the state.

The accused persons, it would be recalled, on 12th May 2010 at Taf Housing Estate in Brufut in West Coast Region, were found in possession of 3 parcels of cocaine, a prohibited drug.

In his judgement, the trial magistrate told the court that the four accused persons were charged with possession of prohibited drugs.

He said the prosecution called witnesses, and had proven their case beyond all reasonable doubt.

Magistrate Nkea further stated that the defence counsel, Emmanuel E Chime, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.

He said the defence counsel further mitigated that the first accused is a patient who had one time undergone an operation on her womb, and all the accused persons are breadwinners in their various families.

The defence counsel, Magistrate Nkea added, also told the court that the accused persons are all first-time offenders and, more so, they have exhibited remorse throughout the whole proceedings.

He subsequently sentenced them accordingly, and ordered that if the convicts are to pay a fine, 75 percent of this fine should be paid to the NDEA and 25 percent to the state.

He said the sentences started from the date of their arrest.