#Article (Archive)

Babylon 47 discharged

Oct 13, 2010, 11:21 AM | Article By: Binta Fatty & Abdoulie Nyockeh

Following two years and seven months of a legal battle, the trial of the Babylon 47 seems to have come to an end, thanks to the Brikama Magistrates' court which on Tuesday took the decision to discharge the accused persons.

The new development yesterday before Magistrate Ceesay, follows a withdrawal application made by Pa Harry Jammeh, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary at the Attorney General's Chambers.

Solicitor General Jammeh, in his application to withdraw the case, told the court that the law is a dynamic force for the maintenance of social order and preventing chaos in society.

"Thus a society without laws breeds violence. It becomes a society characterised by chaos and anarchy; one of banditry; one that heads for disaster," he said.

According to him, the Gambia is known as a peaceful and stable country; a country where people co-exist peacefully, and government is all the more determined to ensure that this peaceful co-existence is maintained. He stated that regardless of the gravity of the offence, people must learn to follow due process, and not take the law into their own hands.

"What happened in this case is unfortunate. It's an abominable act that is un-Gambian and un-heard of, and I hope it will never repeat itself," he told the court, adducing further that the state is adopting a restorative justice approach in this matter to ensure peaceful co-existence of the members of the community.

Responding to the application for the withdrawal of the case, Magistrate Ceesay said the case has, unfortunately and owing to its peculiar nature, had a long history of delay due to adjournments.

He said pursuant to section 68 (I) of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Gambia (and any other powers it may have), the court exercising its discretion, orders as follows:

"Total and complete discharge of all the charges against the defendants; immediate discharge of the existing bail and its related conditions in respect of all the defendants in the matter and their subsequent release from custody."

He also ordered that both sides involved in the unfortunate incident of 30 March 2008 in Babylon village, in particular the defendants, keep the peace at all times pending the investigation of the incident by the relevant state authorities.

"It should be noted that the discharge of the case against the defendants does operate as a bar to any future proceedings against anyone of them on the existing facts as obtained at the relevant time," Magistrate Ceesay stated, before discharging the accused persons.

It would be recalled that the 47 accused persons were charged with arson, wilful damage to property, going armed in public, among others.