Feb 22, 2011, 11:00 AM
Top officials of the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), Dr Isatou Touray Executive Director and Amie Bojang Sissoho program co-ordinator, were yesterday granted bail in the sum of D1.5 million each to be provided by sureties with landed property within the Greater Banjul Area.
This development at the Banjul Magistrates' Court followed another bail application made by defence counsel led by Amie Bensouda yesterday.
The case attracted a large crowd, including members of civil society organizations.
It would be recalled that Dr Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho were first arraigned before the court on Monday 12th October charged with theft, a charge they denied. They were subsequently remanded first at police headquarters, then at the remand wing of the Mile 2 state central prison.
During Wednesday's court sitting, Amie Bensouda told the court that the police had confirmed to the court that their investigation into the case had been completed.
Since 12th October 2010, she said, the court had ordered the police to expedite their investigation, and that the police prosecutor, Superintendent Joof, confirmed to the court that the investigation was completed.
Counsel added that it would not be proper to further remand the accused persons after the police had confirmed to the court that the investigation was completed.
"If the police think that the accused persons should be further remanded in custody, pending the outcome of the case, it would not be fair to the accused persons, whose rights have already been violated," she stated.
"The police have completed their investigations since May 2010 by recovering 23 documents from GAMCOMTRAP office, and yet still they are opposing bail to the accused persons without any grounds," counsel told the court.
She said that any further indulgence without granting bail to the accused persons would be tamtamout to the violation of their rights, and cited section 24 of the CPC, urging the court to grant the accused persons bail.
The prosecuting officer, Superintendent Joof, had earlier told the court that the prosecution was maintaining their earlier objection to bail for the accused persons.
Superintendent Joof told the court that, though the investigation into the matter was completed, the prosecution still fears that the accused persons can interfere with the case.
He added that the prosecution wanted to proceed with the case, but witnesses were not in court. He, therefore, urged the court to remand the accused persons in custody.
Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea in his ruling stated that the court had gone through the previous ruling it delivered on 12th October 2010. He said the reason why the court did not grant them bail during their first appearance was due to the fear that they might tamper with the investigation.
"Since the police prosecutor has confirmed to the court that the investigation was completed, it will be unwise to further remand the accused persons in custody," Magistrate Nkea told the court, before granting bail to the accused persons.
The case was adjourned to 3rd November 2010 for hearing.
According to prosecutors, the two women's rights activists, Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, sometime in the year 2009, in Banjul and diverse places in the Gambia, jointly stole the sum of 30,000 Euros being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain to GAMCOTRAP, which is a local non-governmental organisation actively campaigning against the practice of female genital mutilation in the Gambia.