Jun 29, 2009, 7:22 AM
Ranging from 1 - 5 years
Nine members of the separatist MFDC rebel movement in the southern Senegalese province of Cassamance were yesterday condemned to various jail terms following seven months of legal battle.
The seven, individually and collectively charged with terrorism, spying and possession of Gambian ID card's among other charges, were sentenced by the Banjul Magistrates' Court to serve sentences, ranging from one year to five years.
Delivering his judgement before a packed courtroom, the presiding Magistrate, Kayode Olajubatu, recalled that the convicts were arraigned before the court on the 1st of October 2007. He added that the convicts were individually and jointly charged with various offences, saying that some of them pleaded guilty to other charges whilst denying others.
In their attempt to prove the case against the men, according to the learned Magistrate, the prosecution called in four witnesses.
Kayode pointed out that the convicts had, in their cautionary statements, admitted being natives of Cassamance and they've also indicated how they acquired Gambian ID cards. To the Magistrate, the acquisition of Gambian ID cards by the nine was unlawful as they've admitted being members of a rebel movement in Cassamance.
On the issue of transfer of arms and ammunition, Kayode explained that three of the convicts had, in their cautionary statement, indicated how they met Abdou Salam Jammeh to purchase arms and ammunitions.
On the charge of terrorism, Kayode asserted that the men have admitted being members of MFDC resident in Gambia with their families, adding that their arrest was effected in the Gambian territory. He stressed that the nine MFDC members were using Gambia as a safe haven and a pad to launch their activities in Cassamance, adding that the men have a common agenda. The magistrate maintained that it was realised from the mobile phone calls by the convicts that communications were made between them and one Latif Hydara; the intermediary between the rebels and the Senegalese government.
Turning to the charge of spying, Magistrate Kayode stated categorically that the men were not tourists in The Gambia as they had admitted being members of MFDC and that taking snapshots of security installations, possession of one Gambian map and procurement of arms and ammunition meant they had a common agenda.
On the charge of receiving stolen properties, Kayode postulated that Sam Kambai- a former soldier of GNA- had admitted stealing military equipment and selling them to Hatab Jatta, said to be at large. For Magistrate Kayode, there was no doubt that there was a transaction of arms between Sam and other convicts. The Magistrate asserted that the transaction between Sam and the convicts that Sam was the link for arms transfer from Gambia to Cassamance, saying that one of the convicts had said in his statement that the Senegalese government had given them 3 million CFA to lay down their arms but the money was instead used to buy arms and ammunition.
The following is a list of those convicted and the sentences they received. Sedat Jarjue, 5 years 6 months, Ebrima Colley, 5 years 6 months, Nuha Jammeh 4 years 4 months, Lamin Teww Sambou, Ansumana Badjie, Joseph Jatta Tamsir Badjie each 2 years, Abdou Salam Jammeh 4 years 6 months and Wuye Jarjue, 1 year.