May 27, 2014, 10:26 AM
Defence counsel Lamin S. Camara yesterday made a no-case-to-answer submission in the trial involving Mass Kah, a Foroyaa messenger, who was charged with sedition, before Magistrate Isatou Janneh of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.
Lamin S. Camara, in his submission, told the court that the criminal procedure code vests the magistrate with the power to acquit and discharge the accused person, in the event of a successful no-case-to-answer submission, if the magistrate was of the opinion that there was no need to call the accused to enter his defence.
He referred to the section of the code under which the accused was charged, adding that the provision required the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
“The words used by the accused must have a seditious intention to bring the person of the President into contempt, hatred or disaffection,” the defence counsel told the court, and referred the court to the particulars of offence in the charge sheet.
He asked whether the statement: “Why not paste the photo of the President on the Sky?” could bring the person of the President into contempt, hatred or disaffection.
Lamin S. Camara said the first prosecution witness never told the court in his evidence that the accused told him to paste the photo of the President in the Sky.
The second witness said he saw the accused and PW1 quarreling, but did not know what happened, while the third witness, who was allegedly with the first witness, said the accused said: “If you like, you can paste the photo up to the Sky.”
The third witness admitted that this statement was different from, “Why not paste the photo on the Sky?”; and confirmed to the court that the accused said: “If you like, you can paste the photo up to the Sky.”
It was very clear that the accused never said: “Why not paste the photo on the Sky?”, counsel continued.
The fourth witness, Fansu Manneh, a civil servant, recorded the cautionary and voluntary statements, which were not statements of confession, counsel went on, adding that the statement: “If you want, you can paste it on the Sky”, does not amount to sedition.
“These statements are not directly against the person of the President”.
Moreover, he continued, the statement was not capable of bringing the person of the President into contempt, disrepute, disaffection, ill-will or hatred.
The law requires the prosecution to prove the offence, counsel told the court, adding that the prosecution had not proven the offence, which is sedition, charged.
What the accused said was not capable of having a seditious intention, as required by the relevant sections of the criminal code
“Finally, if Your Worship is minded to hold that the statement: “Why not paste the photo on the Sky?” is seditious, then the police should produce the person who uttered that,” said the defence counsel.
Lamin Camara argued that confessing to making a statement: “If you want, you can paste the photo on the Sky” is not a crime at all, and was not seditious.
He finally urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused for the prosecution’s failure to prove the guilt of the accused.
At this juncture, the prosecuting officer, Sergeant 3560 Colley, applied for an adjournment to reply to the defence submission.
The case was then adjourned to 6 February 2014.