Sep 10, 2013, 10:43 AM
The high court in Brikama yesterday dismissed the bail application filed by defence counsel on behalf of former senior ministry of Agriculture officials, who were charged with five counts of economic crime, two counts of negligence of official duty and three counts of uttering false documents.
They are Bakary Trawally, former permanent secretary, Momodou Mbye Jabang, former program coordinator, Modou Lamin Ceesay, businessman, Hawa Saye Touray, former supplies officer, Kekoi Kuyateh, former deputy permanent secretary, Dr Amadou Sowe, former permanent secretary, Dr Mustapha Ceesay, former deputy director of NARI, Seedy Jarju and Yusupha Jawara.
In delivering the ruling on the bail application, Justice Emmanuel Ahmadi noted that defence counsel had applied for the accused persons to be released from custody.
He said the prosecution also filed an affidavit in opposition to support their objection to bail.
Justice Ahmadi added that lawyer LS Camara counsel for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th accused persons, submitted that the accused persons were arrested and detained at the Banjul Police Station, and remanded by the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
Counsel argued further that the accused persons had no criminal record, and they have sureties to bail them, as bail is at the discretion of the court.
It was the submission of the defence counsel that in granting the accused person bail, the court should consider the criminal record of the accused person, the availability of the accused person before the court during the trial, the nature of the charge, the severity of the punishment and the evidence before the court.
It was also defence counsel’s submission that the affidavit in opposition was not cogent enough to deny the accused persons bail, and that one of the principles of criminal law is to presume the accused person innocent until proven guilty by the court.
The counsel for the 5th, 7th and the 9th accused, Sheriff Marie Tambedou, submitted that the accused persons were in custody for 58 days now, and he urged the court to grant them bail.
He added that state counsel Simon Abi did submit that bail is at the discretion of the court, and that the 1st accused was a senior public officer who, if released on bail, would interfere with the prosecution witnesses.
Justice Ahmadi ruled that nothing was said about the 5th and 7th accused apart from saying that they live in the Gambia, adding that despite the beautiful language of the affidavit, there was little known about the accused persons.
There is no way one can differentiate one from the other, adding that he found it difficult to exercise his discretion in favour of the accused persons.
He consequently overruled the bail application, and adjourned the case till today.