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Court discharges drug suspect

Feb 2, 2017, 11:05 AM | Article By: Bruce Asemota

Senior Magistrate Nche Blessed of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court on Monday 30 January 2017, acquitted and discharged one Modou Bah after the court found him ‘not guilty’ of the offence of possession of prohibited drugs.

The accused person was charged for possession of prohibited drugs and the particulars of offence stated that the accused person, Modou Bah, on 25 May 2016, at London Corner, in Serrekunda, in the Kanifing Municipality, had in his possession 160grams of cannabis sativa, a prohibited drug without valid license and thereby committed an offence.

Senior Magistrate Nche Blessed disclosed that the accused pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him, and the prosecution opened its case and called six witnesses to prove the charge against him.

The six were Njaga O. Jatta, Nuhar Bojang, Modou Lamin Sanyang, Saikou Manneh, Babucarr Jawla and Samba Bah, all narcotics officers.

 Magistrate Blessed further disclosed that after eight different adjournments, the prosecution applied to close their case, stating that they could not secure the presence of witnesses before the court, and in consideration of the fact that the accused person was in remand.

The court granted the application and ordered defence to open its case, she said.

Magistrate Blessed said that both the prosecution and defence waived their rights for addresses and adoption of briefs.

She added that in criminal cases, the standard of proof is to prove beyond reasonable doubt, and that the prosecution had the burden to prove its case against the accused person, citing the Evidence Act.

She further noted that since the accused person was charged with a criminal offence, he was presumed innocent until the contrary is proven, again citing the constitution.

 She revealed that it was the duty of the prosecution to establish its case either by direct, constructive or circumstantial evidence, to convince the court that the accused was guilty of the offence charged.

Magistrate Blessed pointed out that she had on several occasions cautioned the prosecution to be cautious and diligent in prosecuting their cases, as a lot of procedure and evidence was required, particularly when it has to do with reports and certificates to establish a case.

“It is held that a trial judge should not speculate on evidence not before the court; citing other decided cases to back up her argument.”

Therefore, she added, the court would not rely on the speculative measures of the weight that was not done as provided for by the Act.

If there is any doubt, it shall be resolved in favour of the accused person, she continued, and also cited other decided cases to support her argument.

It was also clear that the accused person stated that four of them were arrested and taken to the station and detained, according to the magistrate.

The prosecution also stated that only the accused person and two others were arrested, one woman and a man, and none of the parties, be it prosecution or defence, were able to secure the presence of any of those persons in court to corroborate any of the stories.

The said man or the woman found in the same premises was not brought to court as a co-accused or a witness.

She also cited the drug control Act, and explained that if a person is found in any premise to be in possession of a prohibited drug, that same compound or premises is deemed to have partaken in the commission of the offence, unless otherwise proven.

She added that the prosecution gave contradictory and conflicting evidence, which raised doubts as to the culpability of the accused.

Magistrate Blessed, therefore, held that the prosecution did not discharge the legal burden required by law in proving the guilt of Modou Bah, and he was accordingly acquitted and discharged on the charge of being in possession drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

She ordered that the presumed prohibited drug (160g of presumed cannabis sativa) be forfeited to the state, but might be subject to destruction only after 30 days from today.

She informed the parties that they were at liberty to appeal the judgment if they were not satisfied.