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Rambo absent for 'security reason'

Jan 17, 2011, 11:45 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Gambia Court of Appeal was on Friday informed that the absence of Yusuf Ezideen, alias Rambo, in court on two occasions was due to "security reasons".

Rambo is among the eight people, including former chief of defence staff Lang Tombong Tamba, who were convicted for treason and sentenced to death by the High Court in Banjul, on 15th July 2010.

When the appeal case resumed on Friday, the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Joseph Wowo, asked the prison wardens about the whereabouts of the appellant, Yusuf Ezideen (alias Rambo), as he was not in the courtroom.

Inspector Korita of the Prisons Service told the court: "My lord, it was due to security reason; that's why we were unable to bring Yusuf Ezideen to court."

The issue of Yusuf's absence was raised by his counsel, Hawa Sisay Sabally, when the matter was called in court.

"Why is he absent," Justice Wowo who was presiding over the appeal alongside two other judges, asked the prison officers. In response, Inspector Korita said: "It is due to security reasons, and I cannot disclose it in court."

The counsel then told the three-member panel of judges that she was at the registry on several occasions to have the records of proceedings, but to no avail.

She said she was told that the records of proceedings will be ready in two weeks' time, to compile them.

"My lord, I have been to the registry, and found only two staff preparing the records of proceedings, and we also have been writing to the registry in order to get the records," Mrs Sabally further told the court.

The state respondent, Daniel O. Kulo, Director of Special Litigations at the Attorney General's Chambers, said he would join forces with the appellant's counsel in order to get the records of proceedings from the High Court.

The case was at that juncture adjourned until 21st January 2011.

Meanwhile, in a similar development, the appeal filed by  Lang Tombong Tamba and six others at the Gambia Court of Appeal could also not proceed, as the records of proceedings from the High Court were not ready.

Lang Tombong Tamba, Modou Gaye, Kawsu Camara (alias Bombadier), Gibril Ngorr Secka, Lamin Bo Badjie and Abdoulie Joof were sentenced to death after being found guilty by the High Court for treasonable offences.

Their appearance followed a ruling delivered by Justice Wowo, that he would entertain the appeal filed by the appellants against their conviction and sentence.

The appellants' counsel, PCO Secka, who led a team of counsel including SM Tambedou and R Thomasi, told the court: "It was unfortunate, my lord, that the appeal was not right for hearing because the records of proceedings were not ready."

Counsel said that they had not received the records of proceedings, adding that they went to the registry, but they were still not ready.

Justice Wowo then told both parties that they should ensure diligent prosecution, for the appeal to be heard.

PCO Secka then asked the judges to make an order for the records of proceedings to be made available to the court, and to both parties.

Delay Causing Hardship

Secka said that the delay in the court proceedings is seriously causing hardship to the appellants, who were incarcerated at Mile 2 prison, adding that the registry complained that the documents were bulky and would need time to compile them.

PC Secka also reminded the court that they were also making follow up to the earlier ruling, delivered by the judge, but to no avail.

The appeal court president, however, told the counsel to be going to the registry on a daily basis to see that the records of proceedings are ready.

The state respondent DO Kulo told the court that he would join forces with the appellants to see that the records of proceedings are ready and available to the court.

The appeal was then adjourned until 21st January 2011 for hearing.