The 28 accused persons allegedly involved in the Babylon arson case yesterday appeared before Justice Moses Richards of the Special Criminal Court Division of the High Court.
Their appearance at the Special Criminal Court Division of the High Court was in respect of the bail application filed by their Defence Counsel, Senior Counsel Antuman Gaye, for the High Court to grant his clients bail.
The accused persons are Ensa Colley, Nuha Jarju, Bakary Jarju, Alifa Jatta, Nuha Colley, Mamina Kujabi, Salifu Jammeh, Yaya Jammeh, Yusupha Badjie, Yankuba Sonko, Saikuba Colley, Samsideen Kujabi, Abdou Sonko, Nuha Jammeh, Pa Ebrima Colley, Adama Jammeh, Alieu Jammeh, Sainey Jarju, Malamin Jammeh, Abdoulie Jarju, Mattarr Colley, Alasan Jammeh, Tijan Jatta, Momodou Secka, Alhagie Njie, Amin Colley, Karafa Jawara and Modou Jammeh.
When the case was called, the State Counsel, Mrs N.B. Jones told the court that she had preliminary objection on the application.
According to her, there are charges pending at the Magistrates' Court against the applicants. She said when charges are pending before a particular court all the applications arising there from, must first be brought before that court.
She submitted further that "it's always in a situation where bail application have been canvassed before the trial court by the applicants and the trial court refused the application, there then the applicants can take a step to go to the High Court".
She adduced further that where such application was made before the trial court and the court abandons the application without considering it, then the applicant having dissatisfied had the chance to go to the High Court.
According to her, no circumstance had arisen in this case and it was not shown that this application before the High Court was first brought before the trial magistrates' court, and that the ruling was made thereof. She said the court that has the mandate to hear the application is the Brikama Magistrates' Court which has the jurisdiction.
She submitted that a magistrate that has the jurisdiction to try that offence equally has the power to grant bail. She added that there was an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that enlarged the Magistrates' Court to hear capital offences.
In response to State Counsel preliminary objection, Senior Counsel Antuman Gaye, said the preliminary objection raised by the State Counsel has lacked merit.
According to him, the State Counsel did not quote any authority or status that when a matter is before a subordinate court; one is not allowed to go to the High Court without first making the application before the trial Magistrates' Court. He submitted that, the judge is invited to look at the charges; one of which is arson that carries a life imprisonment.
According to him, the Brikama Magistrates' Court had no jurisdiction to grant bail on a charge of arson, that's why they came to the High Court, which has the jurisdiction to do so.
In his ruling, Justice Moses Richards stated that, the High Court have supervisory jurisdiction over all subordinate courts. He said the high court had the jurisdiction to hear the bail application.
The case was adjourned to 14th September 2009 for hearing of the bail application.