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Justice Minister signs fiat in Gov’t officials trial

Nov 2, 2016, 10:27 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Police prosecutor Sub-Inspector A. Badjie yesterday informed the Banjul Magistrates’ Court that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mama Fatima Singhateh, has signed the fiat in the case involving 30 government officials before Magistrate Kebba Baldeh.

When the case was called, prosecutor Badjie told the court he was representing the IGP along with Sub-Inspector Bojang and Sergeant 656 Jaiteh.

Lawyers Camara, Njie and Senghore represented the accused persons.

Sub-Inspector Badjie then said the 2nd, 3rd and 12th accused, who were absent, were granted bail by the court, adding that the reasons for their absence was not known to the prosecution.

The case is a criminal case, and the accused should make themselves available before the court, he continued.

Since they could not ascertain their absence, they would apply that the court revokes their bail which would make them available on the next court sitting, he went on.

Prosecutor Badjie adduced that Malang Jammeh, the tenth accused, could not fulfill the conditions of bail and is still at Mile 2 prisons, and their absence had contributed to a setback in the case.

He urged the court to grant their application.

Lawyer L.S. Camara, speaking for the third accused person and the others, asked whether the prosecution could have proceeded without the accused persons.

He argued that yesterday’s business was the production of the fiat, to show that the case was properly before the court.

Counsel Camara added that the 2nd, 3rd, 12th, 29th, and 30th accused persons were absent, and the case could not have proceeded without them, so long as their names are on the indictment.

The prosecutor’s statement that the absence of the 2nd and 3rd accused persons impeded the trial of the case was not correct.

Asking the court to revoke the bail of the 3rd accused was wrong, he continued, adding that revocation of bail was not automatic.

He further stated that the sureties should be summoned to court to produce the accused, and should show cause why they should forfeit the bail bond.

Counsel Camara argued that the prosecutor’s application was wrong in law, adding that the prosecutor had not produced the fiat, and there was need to amend the charge or strike out the names of the 29th and 30th accused persons.

He urged the court to refuse the application of the prosecutor.

Lawyer Omar Njie told the court that as a matter of law, the revocation of bail by the court was not automatic, because of the absence of the accused.

He added that there are laid down rules for the forfeiture of a bail bond, adding that the 2nd and the 30th accused persons had never been brought to court.

He adduced that the issue of absconding while on bail did not arise, adding that those were the issues to be looked into, as set out in the procedure for recognizance.

Sub-Inspector Badjie responded that at that moment, they were not up to the level of producing the fiat, adding that they had the fiat and would tender it.

He said the fiat is about the accused persons, and they should be present in court.

He added that counsel Camara referred to section 24 (3f) of the constitution that he, Camara, stated that he did not know why the 3rd accused was absent.

He said this prompted them to make their application.

At this juncture, he applied to tender the fiat which he said was signed by the Attorney General, to which a cover note addressed to the IGP was attached.

The defence did not raise any objection, and the said fiat was admitted by the court.

Magistrate Baldeh finally ruled that the accused could not take their plea in the absence of the other accused persons, adding that if the accused persons failed to appear in court at the next sitting, their sureties would give reasons why they should not forfeit the bail bond.

The case was adjourned until 14 November 2016.

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