Dec 19, 2013, 9:40 AM
They are charged with unlawful assembly and prohibition of conduct conducive to a breach of the peace.
The accused persons are Lamin Marong, Lamin Sonko, Foday Gassama, Maimuna Darboe, Ousman Drammeh, Sherrif Kinteh, Jerreh Fatty, Fakebba Colley, Sirreh Sonko, Bakary Gibbba, Wandifa Kinteh, Kawsu Jaiteh, Yaya Njai, and Lamin Njai; they all denied the charges.
Lawyer Darboe made the no-case submission after the prosecution announced that they have closed their case, following the testimony of the sixth and last prosecution witness.
In his submission, senior defence counsel Darboe said: “I am inviting the court to acquit and discharge the accused persons on the two-count charge before the court.”
The prosecution had called six witnesses in support of the charges, he said, adding that there was no element in support of the offences charged.
Regarding count two, which was prohibition of conduct conducive to a breach of peace, counsel said the accused persons were gathered on a private property which was not a public place, and the alkalo confirmed that the property belonged to one Zakaria.
Lawyer Darboe said none of the witnesses stated seeing any bad behaviour from the accused persons, and that what Foday Gassama said, that the UDP members should not be afraid to show that they belong to the party, according to Darboe, was the accused person’s constitutional right.
About count one, which was unlawful assembly, counsel said there was nowhere, in the definition of unlawful assembly, that when there was no permit granted it was unlawful.
He said the crucial element was that, ‘you must assemble with intent to commit an offence’. Counsel added that there was nothing wrong with members of a registered political party holding a meeting in a private property.
“I am not sure if the law had changed, but the constitution guarantees freedom of assembly,” said lawyer Darboe.
If the accused persons were criminals, they would have run away, but would not have reported to the police station, counsel went on, and urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused persons.
The case was then adjourned to 10 April 2014, for the prosecution’s reply to the application.
Meanwhile, in his testimony, the sixth and last prosecution witness, Saikou Joof, a detective police officer attached to Tujereng police station, said he could recall what happened on 14 February 2014. He was on duty, and learned that his station officer,ASP Bahoum, went to Madiana village upon a tip off that there was a political meeting.
Officer Joof said he then called ASP Bahoum to find out, and was told to wait for them in Tanji as they were on their way coming.
Upon their arrival there, he was told that Jerreh Fatty, Lamin Marong and two others were engaged in a political meeting at Madiana, he told the court.
Joof invited them to his office for an interview, but they said they would not make any statement.
He said he later went to Madiana to find out about the meeting, and found out that the meeting was hosted by Wandifa Kinteh and Lamin Njai.
They searched for them until the next day, when they came to the station where they were arrested, he continued.
He interviewed them, and they confirmed that they were the hosts, but they were not having a political meeting.
He further stated that not all the accused person were residents of Madiana, and the meeting place was an empty plot of land with mango trees.
He said they took their statements, but they were not able to recover any document authorizing them to hold a meeting, and they did not tell the police the purpose of their gathering.
The witness was cross-examined by the defence counsel.