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Court orders prisons authority to produce UDP’s Solo Kuruma death certificate

Sep 22, 2016, 11:05 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The Special Criminal Court in Banjul presided over by Justice O. Ottaba yesterday ordered the prisons authority to produce the original death certificate and autopsy report on Solo Kuruma, in the case involving 15 supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP).

The accused persons are Bakary Jammeh, Kaddy Samateh, Lele Bojang, Alkali Sanneh, Yaya Fatty, Solo Kuruma (deceased), Muhammed Singhateh, Kemo Touray, Bakary Marong, Buba Mass, Alhagie Saidykhan, Tombong Njie, Modou Sarr, Sheriff Suno, and Lamin Dampha.

They were indicted on several counts ranging from conspiracy to commit felony, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, to holding a procession without permit and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.

When the case was called, Rachel Y. Mendy appeared for the accused persons alongside Yasin Senghore and Aji Combeh Gaye, whilst B. Jaiteh appeared for the state.

R.Y. Mendy then said all the accused persons were present in court except the 6th accused person, Solo Kuruma, and that only the prosecution could explain why he was not in court.

Responding, state counsel B. Jaiteh said: “We are informed by the prisons authorities that the 6th accused person had passed away.”

The head of the prisons escort, Kalipha Bojang, said Solo Kuruma passed away last month.

The trial judge then asked him for the death certificate.

Counsel R.Y. Mendy said this was something that should be brought before the court, because the state kept mentioning the 6th accused in the case.

She said they were also told that an autopsy was conducted on the deceased, adding that the autopsy report should be provided along with the death certificate.

The head of the prisons escort, Bojang, told the court they have the autopsy report and the death certificate at their office.

The judge then told him that the original copies of the documents should be provided to the court.

Counsel R.Y. Mendy then said there was a pending application for bail before the court, adding that the state had been served and they filed an affidavit in opposition to which they would like to reply.

She said they wanted to move it orally.

Counsel Mendy further stated that they were denied access to their clients at Mile 2, and when they visited them they kept them waiting for 3 hours only to be told they could not see them.

They also kept on telling them that the one responsible was not around.

The trial judge then ordered for both parties to file written briefs for the bail application.

On the issue of having access to their clients, the trial judge said it was the constitutional rights of the accused persons to have access to their lawyers.

He then ordered the DG of prisons to allow counsel access to their clients.

The prison authorities were also ordered to produce to the court the original copies of the autopsy report and death certificate of Solo Kuruma.

The case was adjourned until 5 October 2016 at 12pm, for adoption of briefs.