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‘Prosecutor’s application is premature’, says defence in Gov’t officials trial

Nov 16, 2016, 9:59 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Defence counsel E. Sanneh yesterday told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court that the prosecutor’s application, for a bench warrant to be issued for the arrest of some accused persons who were not present in court, was premature.

He said this before Magistrate Kebba Baldeh, in the case involving government officials.

When the case was mentioned, Inspector Sanyang said he was representing the IGP.

Lawyers Omar Njie, E. Sanneh and Yasin Senghore represented the accused persons.

Prosecutor Sanyang applied to amend and expunge the 29th accused person and Kebba S. Touray from the charge sheet, adding that the two accused persons never appeared in court.

He said their names should be expunged from the charge sheet, so that the case could proceed by virtue of section 169 of the CPC, adding that the 2nd and 3rd accused persons never appeared in court.

Lawyer E. Sanyang said the application made by the prosecutor was not done in the right procedure, adding that the prosecutor should have applied to withdraw the charge against the accused persons, who were not present in court under section 68 (1) of the CPC, rather than applying under section 169 of the CPC to amend the charge sheet.

He said once the application was granted, then the amended charge sheet would include the 26th accused, who would take their plea.

He argued that the prosecutor’s application was misconceived.

Magistrate Baldeh then ruled that the application by the prosecutor would not cause injustice to the accused persons.

He ordered for the names of the accused persons to be struck out.

Prosecutor Sanyang then urged the court for the other accused persons to take their plea.

Lawyer Omar Njie said the 2nd, 3rd, 29th, and 30th accused persons were not in court, adding that, as a result, they could not take their plea.

He argued that the charge sheet should be amended to reflect the court’s order.

He then asked whether the prosecutor was dropping the charges against the four accused persons who were absent.

Prosecutor Sanyang then said that the 10th accused person took his plea, adding that he was granted bail, but could not fulfill the bail condition.

He was present at the last sitting, the prosecutor continued, adding that the 12th accused was among those who took their plea, and that he had fulfilled his bail condition and is currently under bail.

He further stated that the 12th accused person was absent at the last sitting, and no reason was given to the court.

Prosecutor Badjie had earlier applied for the court to revoke his bail or for his surety to show cause why he should not forfeit the bail bond.

The 16th accused person was also coming to court, but for the previous two sittings he was absent, though he was not on court bail.

Sanyang then applied for a bench warrant to be issued for the arrest of the 16th accused person, who was absent.

This was in the interest of justice, he went on, adding that the 23rd accused person was absent, and this was not the first time.

The accused should not hold the court to ransom, further stated.

He also applied for a bench warrant to be issued for the arrest of the 23rd accused, adding that it was not their intention to delay the case.

E. Sanneh said in respect of the 23rd accused person, he was attending a master’s post-graduate degree course in Asia.

He was instructed by the 23rd accused person to act on his behalf on 18 October 2016, adding that he was charged while he was not in the country, Sanneh told the court.

He urged the court not to issue a bench warrant until the reason or reasons were known as to why those were not present in court.

Magistrate Baldeh ruled that the 23rd accused was never arraigned.

In order not to delay the case, he would order for a bench warrant to be issued for the arrest of the other accused who were absent.

The case was adjourned until 21 November 2016.