Nov 12, 2008, 5:25 AM
Seven men and a woman yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud involving over D7 million, obtaining money by false pretence and economic crimes causing injury to the Gambian economy, before Justice Abi of the Banjul High Court.
The accused persons are Cherno Hamidou Savage, Oumie Saffiatou Jallow, Mansa Bah, Ousman Sowe, Sheikh Dawda York, Alpha Kanteh, Abdou Camara, Kemo Fatty, and Buba Bah who is at large.
When the case was called, counsel Bachily, Marong, Richards, E.A Gomez, Mathew and S.M Tambadou represented the 2nd to 8th accused persons, while the 1st accused was unrepresented.
A. Adeyami represented the state.
The indictment was then read to them and they all denied the charges, which included conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and economic crime.
The state then applied for an adjournment.
Defence counsel Tambadou told the court that before talking of adjournment dates, he would like to make an application.
His application was for the accused persons to be admitted to bail, pending the trial and determination of the case.
He said all the counts in the indictment are bailable offences under the criminal procedure code.
At that juncture, the state counsel said they were objecting to the oral bail application for the accused persons.
She said because of the nature of the case and the amount in the charge sheet, bail application should be done formally not orally.
Defence counsel S.M Tambadou said he was not aware of any law that required for a bail application to be done formally.
A formal application would have been justified or necessary if the accused were in custody.
He added that where the accused in that instance were before the court, the application could be done orally while he referred the court to the High Court Practice Direction number one 2013.
He said the state had also referred to the amount in the charge sheet. There was “no amount that is an authority” to be considered with regard to bail application, counsel said.
“I urge your lordship to allow me to continue my oral application,” he added.
In his ruling, Justice Abi said he agreed with the defence that an amount had no influence on whether the bail application could be formal or oral.
He, therefore, overruled the state’s objection and allowed the defence to continue with the oral application.
Counsel Tambadou then said all the accused persons were previously charged before the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.
In view of the charge, they were each granted court bail and they complied and fulfilled the conditions of the bail, he continued.
He added that even when the case was transferred to the high court, they were rearrested and again released on bail by the police.
All the accused persons had instructed him that they would provide sureties to secure and guarantee their appearance in court to stand trial, and they intended to defend the case and clear their names because they had already denied the charges.
He said the sum of D1,777,500 is what the accused persons had caused to be lost by the economy of The Gambia, as alleged in the economic crime charge.
The state counsel responded that the offences before the court were bailable, but granting bail was at the discretion of the court.
She said the amount of D1 million was not to be seen as a mere D1 million, and should be considered if the court was granting bail.
The case continues.