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Accused person collapses, in trial of six female alleged demonstrators

May 20, 2016, 11:59 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Lele Bojang, who was charged along with Isatou Saidy, Sukai Dahaba, Kaddy Samateh, Fatoumata Sarr and Amie Touray, on Thursday 19 May collapsed outside the court as she was being escorted to the toilet.

She was then rushed to the police clinic.

This followed the writing of a ruling by Magistrate Abeke of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court, who rose and walked into his chambers to continue writing the ruling.

The accused persons were charged with seven counts of conspiracy, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, holding procession without a permit and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession, according to a new charge sheet.

When the case was called, state counsel S.K. Jobe rose and said he was representing the state.

Lawyer Mendy stood up and told the court that she was representing the accused persons along with Haddy Daneh Jabbie, Sagarr Jahateh, Lubna Farage, F. Mahoney and Yassin Senghore.

State counsel Jobe told the court that the state had put its house in proper order, adding that they were ready to proceed with the case, and that the accused persons could take their plea.

He stated that the charge sheet they had filed superseded the previous one, adding that they were ready to make progress.

Lawyer Mendy rose and stated that the previous charges were incompetent, adding that they applied for the previous charge sheet to be struck out.

She said they entirely left everything with the court.

Magistrate Abeke then stated that since the prosecution had come back with a proper charge, they could proceed with the case and that the accused persons could take their plea.

Lawyer Mendy rose and said that before the accused persons proceed to take their plea, the defence wanted to bring to the court’s attention and that of the state counsel that they had not been given access to the accused persons.

She further stated that they had made certain efforts to see the accused persons, but they were told that they were not available, adding that she was only able to speak to them when they were brought to court.

She was informed that the accused were kept at the PIU headquarters, she further told the court.

She urged the court to order that the defence counsel be given access to the accused persons before they take their plea.

In the meantime, she continued, since the prosecution had stated that they were properly before the court, they wished to apply for bail for all the accused persons, considering the circumstances that had been earlier placed before the court.

Counsel Mendy adduced further that if the state was not opposing bail, she would not belabour the point, adding that bail conditions are that contained in section 99 subsections 2 of the CPC, bearing in mind that the charges before the court are misdemeanours and are bailable offences.

She added that this section states that it should not be excessive.

She further submitted that refusal or delay in granting bail to any of the accused persons, considering that they had been in detention for more than 72 hours without bringing them before the court, would be tantamount to a violation of their rights.

State counsel S.K. Jobe rose and said the defence counsel had raised three issues: that the defence did not have access to the accused persons, that they wanted to be given the opportunity to speak to the accused persons and that they made an application for bail.

He said he understood the concern of the defence counsel in regard to having access to the accused persons.

He adduced that these were assertions that he could not agree or disagree with, citing the Evidence Act (section 141), and said that he who asserts must prove.

He added that section 145 of the Evidence Act read together, placed the burden of proof on the defence counsel to prove that several efforts had been made to access the accused persons, but to no avail.

He said there was nothing to show that the defence counsel did not have access to the accused persons, adding that the defence could not presume that was the status quo.

He further proposed allowing the defence to have access to the accused before taking their plea, provided that the defence could talk to the accused persons immediately and make progress.

He argued that the practice concerning the third issue was unknown to the jurisdiction, that is, that the defence applies for bail before their plea was taken.

Therefore, he stated, the application by the defence should not be allowed at this stage of the case, adding that what was prudent to be done in the case was to allow the accused persons to take their plea, and then argue for bail.

He urged the court to disallow the application, and give the defence ten minutes to see the accused persons.

Counsel Mendy said she was surprised that the state counsel does not know the difference between a civil case and a criminal case, adding that burden of proof is on the prosecution and not the defence, hence his referral to section 141 and 145 of the Evidence Act.

She adduced further that it was fortunate for the accused had access to their counsels since they were in court, adding that there is no law that says that access to counsel should be limited to ten minutes.

The case was then stood down to know whether Lele Bojang, who collapsed, would be brought back to court to continue the case.

She was not brought back.

Lawyer Mendy applied for bail for the accused persons when the case resumed, following their plea of not guilty. She urged the court to grant them bail on reasonable conditions.

The state counsel then urged the court to grant the accused persons bail on conditions commensurate with the offences charged.

Magistrate Abeke subsequently granted the accused persons bail of D20,000 with a Gambian surety each, who should swear to an affidavit of means and to surrender their ID cards.

They should give out their proper addresses.

The case was adjourned until 24 May 2016.