Apr 22, 2010, 11:06 AM
The High Court of the
Sidat Jarju, Nuha Jammeh, Lamin Teww Sambou, Ansumana Jarju, Tamsir Badjie, Joseph Jatta, Abdou Salam Jammeh and Wuye Jarju were convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment by the Banjul Magistrates Court.
In his submission before Justice Joseph Wowo of the Banjul High Court, LK Mboge, the Counsel for the eight appellants submitted that there were exhibited cautionary statements from each appellant. He submitted that on the entirety of the evidence before the lower court the appellants were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to consecutive term of imprisonment. He said there was no exhibit, such as a gun or ammunition to prove that the appellants had conspired together to carry out an act of terrorism against a neibouring state. He added that there was evidence in the lower court that the appellants were recognised as Senegalese citizens who are negotiating a peaceful settlement of the arm conflict in the Senegalese region of Casamance. According to lawyer Mboge, the appellants were erroneously convicted and sentenced to consecutive term of imprisonment.
Lawyer Mboge further submitted that "this was manifestly clear in the evidence at the lower court and as such it was recognised as a legitimate organisation the appellants cannot be guilt of any act of terrorism."
According to lawyer Mboge, the High Court had the power to set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellants on the ground that it was reasonable. He submitted that the prosecution had failed to discharge the burden of proof on the charges beyond reasonable doubt. He said, as a general principle of the law, consecutive imprisonment could not be imposed on the offences that arose from the same transaction, adding that the lower court ought to impose concurrent imprisonment. Lawyer Mboge also urged the court to consider that the appellants were unrepresented at the magistrates' court, stating that there was nothing on the record of proceedings to show that the appellants have been given the opportunity to legal representation by legal practitioner of their choice. He submitted that the evidence in the lower court did not disclose any act of spying as alleged in the charges. " I therefore urged the court to review the finding of the lower court which the high court had the power to either set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellants or impose a concurrent imprisonment term," lawyer Mboge stated.
It could be recalled that the nine MFDC rebels from the Southern Senegalese region of Casamance were tried in The Gambia on charges of terrorism, spying, receiving stolen property, unlawful possession of Gambian National Identity Card, amongst others.