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In Australian National Kidnapped Case

Jun 2, 2009, 7:42 AM | Article By: Modou Sanyang

7th Accuse Applies for Bail

Lawyer Antuman Gaye, the leading counsel for Hawa Touray, the 7th accused person and six Nigerian nationals for allegedly kidnapping an Australian national, Justin Liebig had filed a sermon for bail on behalf of his client before the special court, presided over by Justice Moses Richard.

The seven suspects were: Joseph Okeke, alias Charles or Doctor, Nanso Mbasoh, Onuwa Ibaim, Nonso Odowa, Arinze Izuchukwu, Pius Patrick, and Awa Touray.

They are charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, obtaining money by false pretence and stealing, amongst others.

In moving the sermon, Lawyer Antuman Gaye submitted that the sermon was filed on 25th March 2009 and supported with an affidavit. He said they were relying on the entire affidavit in support of the sermon. He added that the state had filed two affidavits in opposition, adding that the court should strike out the state affidavit.

According to Counsel Gaye, the reason is that, "You cannot be a counsel and a witness in the same case". He said this means that there is no affidavit in opposition before the court. Lawyer Gaye submitted that "going by the offence of conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence they are bailable offences".

According to him, there is a presumption of innocence, and that is granted by the constitution. He said "continuing detention under presumption of innocence manifests that the accused is guilty of the offence under the eyes of the public", arguing that the accused pleaded not guilty to the alleged offences. He adduced that the accused Hawa Touray is a Gambian national resident in the country, who was gainfully employed by running a saloon. He said if the court granted his client bail, she would have sureties to bail her. "I was instructed by the accused to informed the court that if granted bail she would not interfere with the prosecution witnesses, and that she would appear in court regularly," he submitted.

In response to the defence submission, State Counsel Marley Wood submitted that the state had filed an affidavit in opposition. She submitted that it was in accordance with the Evidence Act that she had given the information contained in the affidavit to the Clerk, who sworn to the affidavit. She added that even though the offence allegedly committed by the 7th accused was a bailable one, but the court in considering bail had to consider certain facts, such as the nature of the offence, the severity of the punishment if a conviction was sure and the likelihood of the accused in interfering with the prosecution witnesses.

According to Wood, looking at the nature of the alleged offence, "it is a serious offence that had eroded the name of the Gambia in the wing". She urged the court to refuse her bail as filed by the defence.

The case was adjourned to 5th June 2009.