Mar 8, 2012, 1:08 PM
When the case was called, DPP S.H. Barkun appeared for the state along with M. Koita and A.M. Yusuf, while the defence team was led by Senior Counsel A.A.B. Gaye along with A.N. Bensouda, Hawa Sisay-Sabally, S.M. Tambadou, O.M.M. Njie, Mary A. Samba, Rachel Y. Mendy, Neneh Cham, Musa Bachilly, Abdoulie Sissoho, Yasin Senghore, Hajum Gaye, M. Touray, Sagar Jahateh, and J.B. Sambou.
The accused persons are Ousainou Darboe, Kemeseng Jammeh, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta, Yaya Bah, Babucarr Camara, Fakebba Colley, Ismaila Ceesay, Momodou Fatty, Dodou Ceesay, Samba Kinteh, Mamudou Manneh, Nfamara Kuyateh, Fanta Darboe, Lamin Njie, Juguna Suso, Momodou L.K. Sanneh and Yaya Jammeh.
They were charged with five counts of unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, and holding a procession without a permit.
The DPP in his submission said: “We had three witnesses in court my lord. However, we have just discovered that some names were omitted and because of that we intend to amend the charge to include those names in order not to go forward and backward at the same time.
“So we will prefer to have the charge amended and the names included before the commencement of hearing. For this reason, I am compelled by this circumstance to apply for another date for hearing.”
In response, senior counsel Gaye said: “My learned friend has not made himself clear as to what the names are for.”
The DPP again said the application was for additional names to be included in the charge sheet.
Counsel Gaye then said: “DPP has not told anything to the court that will warrant your lordship to adjourn the matter. I would have expected my learned friend to ask for a stand down for him to include the names he had in the bill of indictment.”
He added that the DPP had other options to himself, and there was nothing stopping him to file a separate indictment for them to proceed with the case.
“Your lordship will see that in the six counts there is no charge of conspiracy against the accused persons, which could have given the DPP credence on his application.”
Defence counsel Gaye further said the accused persons are not on bail, and if the DPP had to adjourn the matter, it means they are going back to custody.
“The court could stand down the matter, and let the DPP go and do what he wanted to do or he could let the matter proceed and amend later.”
Senior Counsel Gaye further adduced that if what the DPP was proposing to do was before the court, they could understand but he was just being speculative because there was nothing before the court, and in criminal trial “it is trite that nothing is taken for granted”.
It was the DPP who insisted that they come for hearing and they were ready to proceed, he added.
The trial judge then said he would adjourn the case until Thursday at 12 noon, since the DPP said 10 a.m. was not good for him.
Counsel Gaye then said: “We wish to apply for cautionary and voluntary statements of the accused persons, as well as all the exhibits that the state wants to use against them in court.”
The trial judge said it was as of right, and the DPP should make the documents available.
The DPP also said he would see what he could do, but senior counsel Gaye told the court the DPP should not say that because giving out the documents was not a matter of favour and grace, but a matter of law.
The DPP then said he would make the documents available.
Meanwhile, senior counsel Hawa Sisay-Sabally made an application with regards to the welfare of the accused persons.
“My lord made an order relating to the accused persons to be given medical care and to also have food from their families, as well as for their families and counsel to have access to them.
“We have been informed that the order has not been abided by, by the prison officials, and only their counsel have access to them.”
She added that the 15th accused person, Fanta Darboe, particularly, sustained severe injuries and her dress was not removed for three days, and had not received “any medical” attention.
“This court has made an order that they should receive medical attention,” she said.
“I will remind the court to look at the accused person; they are wearing the same clothes and no change of clothing is allowed and they are just remanded, and not convicts. These people deserve humane treatment to enable them stand trial, which is a constitutional right.”
She added that the court’s independence is guaranteed by the constitution and the court’s order should be complied with.
“Your order is being flouted,” she said.
“I just want to draw the court’s attention to the unfortunate incident that happened in court. It was lunch time and as we were about to give food to the accused, a security officer prevented us from doing so,” she said.
“Even the law allowed those remanded to receive food from private sources; so not only your lordship’s order is flouted but the section of the Prisons Act is frustrated too.”
She added: “The rule is that nobody should come to court armed, but the security [officers] are armed and they are not complaining; so why should they stop the accused from taking food.”
In response, the DPP said most of the allegations are not substantiated, and that he was urging them to comply with the rules and regulations of the Prison Services.
The trial judge then said it was important that somebody in custody be catered for medically, and ordered that they should be given medical attention.
With regard to the food, he urged both parties to work together in coordinating the process.
However, after more than 30 minutes of pushing and pulling between the security escorts and counsel for the accused persons, the accused were taken back to prison without food and the food catered for them was left behind.