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‘Constitution has been violated by the state’, says defence in Cherno Barry & Co trial

Oct 12, 2016, 11:11 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

The defence counsel, E. Sanneh, in the case involving Cherno Barry and twenty-nine others, on 10 October 2016 told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Kebba Baldeh that the constitution had been violated by the state.

When the case was called, Inspector Sarja Sanyang told the court he was representing the IGP along with Sergeant 656 Jaiteh.

Lawyer E. Sanneh, L.S. Camara, and Yasin Senghore represented the accused persons.

Defence counsel Senghore informed the court she was holding brief for Lawyer Omar Njie.

Prosecutor Sanyang told the court he was applying for an adjournment.

He said the case file had been sent to the AG’s Chambers for fiat purpose, adding that proceedings could not be made without the consent of the Attorney General.

He then craved the indulgence of the court for an adjournment, adding they were not in court to cause any delay.

He further stated that they would proceed when they have the case file, adding that their hands were tied.

Defence counsel E. Sanneh said the case was adjourned on 21 September 2016 and, at the last court sitting, they submitted to the court that there had been unreasonable delay in the case.

He adduced that the prosecution made an undertaking that they would proceed with the matter, adding that as the prosecutor was asking for an adjournment, it was inherent that the matter would be further delayed.

Counsel Sanneh added that section 24 of the constitution gives his clients the right for the matter to be heard at a reasonable time.

He also stated that the amended charges were filed on 30 August 2016, adding that the original charges were filed on 13 July 2016.

He argued that it had been three months since his clients were brought to court, adding that the failure to proceed amounted to a violation of his clients’ rights.

Counsel Sanneh said that it was worth noting that his clients are civil servants and have families.

He further argued that the arraignment of his clients in these circumstances amounted to nothing, but an “embarrassment”.

He further stated that in view of the state’s conduct in the proceedings, they were urging the court to strike out the case completely should the prosecution fail to proceed with the matter at the next adjournment date.

He added that the current state of affairs could not continue, and that litigation must come to an end and the case before the court was not an exception.

Lawyer Yasin Senghore also argued that the reason given by the prosecutor was that they were waiting for the consent of the Attorney General, to proceed with the case.

That was the reason given at the last court sitting, she added, quoting section 90 of the CPC.

She adduced further that prior to the filing of the case, the consent of the Attorney General should have been obtained, and that the prosecution had flouted section 90 of the CPC and section 24 of the constitution.

The application for an adjournment had no proper basis in law, she continued, adding that further adjournment of the case would be a breach of the accused persons’ constitutional rights.

Counsel Senghore said she was opposing the application for an adjournment, and associated herself with the submission made by defence counsel E. Sanneh.

She adduced that if the court should adjourn the matter, they would ask that if the prosecution failed to proceed at the next adjournment date, the matter be struck out.

In response, prosecutor Sanyang said it was because of section 90 of the CPC that the prosecution had sent the case file to the AG’s Chambers, adding that they would not proceed without the consent of the Attorney General.

He said they would write to the AG Chambers so they could proceed with the case.

Magistrate Baldeh then said he had inherited the case, and had to study the file.

He urged the prosecutor to ensure the consent of the Attorney General be obtained to proceed with the case, on the next adjournment date.

The case was subsequently adjourned until 18 October 2016.