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Lawyers battle over bail of Taranga FM MD

Aug 14, 2015, 9:56 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The state represented by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the defence counsel, Combeh Gaye-Coker, yesterday battled over the bail application of the Taranga FM MD, Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay.

Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay was remanded in prison custody by the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, after been indicted on a single-count charge of seditious intention before the said court.

Defence lawyers filed a written brief by way of summons supported by affidavits, which they argued on before Justice Abi of the Banjul High Court.

When the case was called, defence counsel Combeh Gaye-Coker informed the court that the matter before the court was an application for bail, following the order of Magistrate MS Jallow of the Banjul Magistrate court on 5 August 2015, wherein the applicant, Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, was denied bail and remanded in prison custody.

She said the application was by way of originating summons filed on 6 August 2015.

Counsel said the summons was supported by an affidavit deposed to by the applicant and attached to the motion was exhibit AC1, which is a charge before the lower court and another exhibit AC2 containing the ruling on bail of the lower court.

She said the respondent was opposed to the application and filed their affidavit in opposition on 11 August 2015.

Section 19 of the constitution and section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) supported the applicant’s right to bail, she went on, adding that the charge before the lower court deals with sedition, which is a bailable offence.

Counsel added that even the charges contained in exhibit A of the respondents affidavit in opposition are all bailable offences.

Where the offences charged are bailable, there is strong presumption in favour of granting bail to the accused, unless there are good reasons and good grounds supported by law to deny the accused bail, she continued.

Counsel further adduced that section 19 and 84 sub 3a of the constitution protects the accused’s right to innocence until proven guilty.

In the instant case before the lower court, the accused pleaded not guilty, which was contained in exhibit A2c, she said.

Counsel said the reason given during the ruling of the bail application before the lower court was that the investigation was yet to end.

She said the magistrate stated that the fundamental rights of the accused was not infringed in anyway.

“That statement by the magistrate is not supported by facts and circumstances of the facts, nor was it supported by the law,” counsel said.

She added that from the facts presented before the court, there was sufficient and cogent reasons why the court should exercise its discretion in favour of granting bail to the applicant.

“I submit that the applicant has been in custody of the state since on 2 July 2015, when he was first arrested and later released on 13 July 2015,” she said.

The applicant was again arrested on 17 July 2015 and, from that date, he was kept in custody of the National Intelligence Agency until 4 August 2015, when he was arraigned before Magistrate MS Jallow of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

The fact of arrest was not deniable by the respondent.

Counsel Gaye said the accused has no history of criminality or record, adding that the applicant has no intention of interfering with potential witnesses or investigations.

The applicant has families in The Gambia, and has no intention of fleeing when granted bail, and has people who would serve as sureties if granted bail.

“I submit that with all these facts, the essence of bail application is to ensure the appearance in court of the applicant to stand trial. I recognize that the offence is bailable, and I urge the court to exercise its discretion judiciously and judicially to grant bail to the accused on reasonable terms that will ensure his appearance in court,” counsel further submitted.

In response, DPP Barkun submitted that the application was misguided, adding that bail application is a matter of discretion of the court whether or not to grant bail.

He said that in order to grant this discretion, relevant materials should be brought before the court to enable the court arrive at a decision.

DPP said relevant materials, paragraph 1 to 32 of the affidavit in support are nothing exceptional or special that could warrant the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the applicant.

He said paragraphs 1 to 10 of the affidavit in support do not indicate anything that could be helpful to the court in granting bail to the applicant, adding that paragraphs 1 to 10 were only telling the court the history of the case.

He said paragraphs 11 to 19 were also nothing exceptional to grant bail because they were only talking about the applicant’s arrest.

It was important to note that bail application is the enforcement of fundamental rights of the accused, DPP submitted.

He further submitted that the court should consider the nature of the charge in granting bail to the applicant, saying “sedition is next to treason”.

“The more serious the offence, the more chances of the applicant jumping bail,” he said.

The case continues on 17 August 2015 at 12 pm, for reply on points of law.