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In cocaine trial case file sent to DPP's office for legal advice

Jul 1, 2010, 1:08 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The trial involving 12 foreign Nationals in connection to drugs (Cocaine) proceeded yesterday before the narcotic court of the Banjul Magistrates' Court presided over by Magistrate Hilary U Abeke.

The accused persons, who now have defence counsels, were charged with three-count of conspiracy to commit an offence; dealing in prohibited drugs for the purpose of supply by retail or wholesale, and the transport and or transfer; and possession of prohibited drugs for the purpose of drug trafficking.

The accused persons who still claim their innocence are; Maimuna Sesay, a Nigerian/ Sierra Leonean National, Fernando Varela, a Cape Verde/Dutch national, Barset Goodwin, a Ghanaian/ Sierra Leonean, Ephriam Micheal Chiduben, a Nigerian National, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Eric Bottini, Dose Fermin, Juan Carlos Diaz, Esteaban Zavala, all Venezuelan Nationals, George Sanchez, a Mexican/ Liberian National as well as Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi and Dennis Wilgo Winter both Dutch nationals.

Lawyer Lamin S Camara is representing the 5th to the 12th accused persons and Lawyer Emmanuel Chime is representing the 1st to the 4th accused persons together with Lawyer LS Ceesay.

When the case resumed yesterday, Chief Inspector Abodoulie Ceesay who represented the National Drug Enforcement Agency applied for an adjournment on the grounds that investigations into the case recently concluded and that the case files has been sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution for legal advice.

Responding to the prosecution's application for an adjournment, Defence Counsel, E Chime told the court that it had been a long time since the accused persons were incarcerated and they had been denied access to visitors particularly their family members.

He advanced that his clients are all asthmatic patients and are finding it difficult to acclimatize with the type of food obtainable at their detention place. He applied to the court for his clients to be allowed access to their family members.

Lawyer Chime told the court if given access to their family members, it would go a long way in helping the accused persons.

"Your worship to further buttress my submission, the 1st accused daughter came all the way form London to see his mother but was denied access to see her and she went back," Chime told Magistrate Abeke.

"They are finding it difficult to use the food at the detention centre and I submitted that three to four people be visiting the accused persons to provide them foods and other things."

"The accused persons are innocent until proven guilty and now that investigations have been concluded, the accused persons should be given access to their family members," Submitted Chime.

Lawyer LS Camara representing the 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th and 15th accused person associated himself with the submission made by Lawyer Chime.

He argued that the sentiments express by his colleague are not privilege but rights the accused persons are entitled to, while giving reference to prison rules cap 201 section 58 which he read in court to further buttress his point and convinced the court. He said the accused persons are entitled to visitor as stated in the Prisons Act.

Defence Counsel LS Camara urged the court to consider the followings orders: that all the accused persons be allowed access to their family member; that all the accused persons be allow food provision from their family members.

Camara said he had no objection to the application but added that he will not entertain any further application for an adjournment from 7th June 2010 because the accused persons has constitutional rights for speedy and fair trial.

Magistrate Hilary U Abeke after hearing from both side granted the prosecution's application for an adjournment. He said the court will consider the application for the accused to have access to their family members on the next adjourned date.

The case was at that stage adjourned to Wednesday 7th July 2010.

The accused persons, all remanded in custody, were escorted to and from court under tight security.