Dec 30, 2011, 2:40 PM
Lawyer Lamin Camara representing the former information minister Dr. Amadou Janneh and three others charged with treason, sedition and conspiracy yesterday urged the Special Criminal Court to discharge Janneh and his co-accused until such a time when the prosecution presents substantial charges against the accused persons.
This call followed another announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mikailu Abdullah, that investigations into the case are still ongoing, and thus he requested for another two weeks adjournment.
The DPP earlier told the court that the charges against the accused persons are holding charges, adding that by next adjournment date, substantial charges will be filed.
Janneh, who was reportedly arrested on Tuesday 7th June, was first arraigned alongside Michel C. Ucheh Thomas, Modou Keita and Ebrima Jallow on Monday 13th June at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
The case was subsequently transferred to the high court, which has jurisdiction in cases of treason.
During yesterday’s proceedings, defence counsel Camara told the court that the accused persons have been languishing at the central prison Mile 2 for one month one day, without knowing their fate, while the prosecutor keeps telling the court that investigations into the matter are still ongoing.
He added that the prosecution, during the last proceedings, promised to file new charges against the accused persons, but to his surprise, the prosecution said the case was still under investigations, adding that his clients cannot be languishing at Mile 2 for so long, without any progress in the case.
“It is the constitutional rights of my clients to know the charges preferred against them. In fact, there are no charges against them here at the High Court, because the charges filed at the lower court are regarded as holding charges, which cannot stand at the High Court.” Camara further submitted.
He urged the court to give seven days to the prosecution to file new charges or otherwise the court discharges the accused persons.
However, the DPP urged the court to grant them another two weeks adjournment, as the investigators are still on their toes investigating the matter.
The DPP added that he was not sure whether investigations into the case were completed by yesterday, adding that the charges before the court are yet to be struck out, and that if the counsel is saying there are no charges against the accused person, then he is misleading the court.
“They were charged at the lower court, but the case was transferred to the high court,” the DPP continued.
In his ruling, Justice Joseph Ikpala ordered the prosecution to present substantial charges against the accused persons, adding that treason is a serious offence.
He granted the prosecution’s request for a two-week adjournment.
Hearing was then scheduled for 19th July 2011.
Janneh and his co-accused persons were escorted in and out of the court premises amidst security, with both hands cuffed and legs shackled.
Dr. Janneh a former political science professor in US and at one time the political and economic affairs officer at the US Embassy in Banjul is accused of conspiring with others to effect to carry out an enterprise with force, with the intent to usurp the executive powers of the state, in the month of May 2011 at Kairaba Avenue and diverse places in The Gambia.
He is also accused of distributing T-shirts bearing ‘Coalition for Change The Gambia, End to Dictatorship Now’ with intent to usurp the executive powers of the state in May 2011 at Kairaba Avenue and diverse places in The Gambia.
On count three, prosecutors said the accused person in the month of May 2011 in Kairaba Avenue and diverse places in The Gambia distributed T-shirts bearing ‘Coalition for Change The Gambia, End to Dictatorship Now’ with intent to incite the inhabitants of The Gambia to attempt to procure alteration otherwise than by lawful means any matter in The Gambia as established by law.