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In Gamtel Staff Case, State Opposes Bail

Feb 23, 2009, 7:14 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Following the opposition of bail by the State Counsel, Shanaka against one Sheikh Gaye, a Gamtel staff member who was charged with economic crimes, Defense Counsel Lawyer Mboge last Tuesday made an application before the Kanifing Magistrates' Court to grant his client bail.

He informed the court, presided over by Senior Magistrate Abdoulie Mbackeh, that he was applying for bail pending the hearing and determination of the case. He adduced that two of the accused persons were formerly charged.

Lawyer Mboge further noted that the state had filed an affidavit in opposition alleging that the investigations are still going on and if the accused is granted bail, he would tamper with the investigations. He noted that there were three accused persons who were arraigned before the court on a holding charge namely Ebrima Baldeh, Adama Ceesay and Sheikh Gaye. "The first two accused persons were granted bail at the High Court and that they have been since released on bail," he said.

According to Lawyer Mboge, now it is only Sheikh Gaye who is still in custody based on the order of the Kanifing Magistrates' Court and unless he is granted bail by the court, he would continue to be in custody indefinitely.

He indicated that the charge is that he had a sim box in his custody at the time of his arrest. "The question therefore is whether that was sufficient to detain him from the date of his arrest on the 16th December 2008 up to date," Lawyer Mboge noted.

He added that, "the continuous detention of the accused amounted to violation of his fundamental right of freedom and liberty under section 19 of the 1997 constitution".

He argued that the charges are bailable under the decree of economic crime. "The provision of the condition of the economic crime decrees had covered all the objections made by the state.  Where the accused absconds, as alleged by the state, the surety is liable to forfeit the bail bond to the state. The state has nothing to lose in this," he indicated.

Lawyer Mboge urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the accused to enable him to regain his freedom and liberty.

At this juncture, state counsel Shanaka rose to say that they had filed an affidavit in opposition in which they described the facts of the case.

He stated that there were also objections in paragraph ten of their affidavit in opposition and that they were objecting on the basis that investigations were still ongoing and that they were yet to see the involvement of the accused.

State Counsel Shanaka further adduced that they have now taken a decision to file charges against the accused. He finally stated that the bail is not mandatory but discretional and referred the court to section 8(1) of the economic crime decree.

In his ruling on Thursday 19th February 2009, Senior Magistrate Abdoulie Mbackeh told the court that the application made by the defense counsel on behalf of his client had some merit.

He stated that it was not proper to deny the accused bail because investigations were going on. He ruled that the continuous detention of the accused amounted to a violation of his freedom and liberty.

Magistrate Mbackeh subsequently granted the accused bail in the sum of D1m with two Gambian sureties with a landed property within the Greater Banjul Area, the title deed of which should be deposited with the assistant registrar.