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Senior prison officers’ trial begins

Mar 17, 2011, 12:49 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The trial of Babucarr Badjie and Bakary Jammeh, both senior officers at the Gambia Prisons Department, commenced yesterday at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before acting-Principal Magistrate Alagba.

The duo are being tried on charges of abuse of office, bringing of prohibited articles into the prison and communicating with prisoners without permission,  contrary to the laws of The Gambia.

Inspector Alieu B. Colley testified as the first prosecution witness, and told the court that he recognized the accused persons.

He said, on 12 January 2011, he was among the officers who were assigned to conduct a general search at the maximum security wing of Mile 2 Central Prison.

The search, he added, followed information received that there were some remand prisoners who had mobile phones in their cell.

He pointed out that the maximum security wing is divided into four parts, labelled as security Number 5, Number 6 , Number 7 and Number 1.

“I was assigned to search security Number 5 and, during the course of the search, I recovered the notes in the cell of one Abdoulie Jarju written in French,” Inspector Colley added.

“After recovering the said notes, I handed them over to the Chief Superintendent of Prison by the name of Thomson Jarju for action,” he continued.

 At that juncture, the prosecuting officer, Superintendent Joof, applied for an adjournment to enable the prosecution bring the said written notes to the court that are in the possession of an investigating panel.

He pointed out that the prosecution was opposing bail for the accused persons on the grounds that the investigation into the case was not completed.

“I, therefore, urge the court not to grant the accused persons bail, because they might interfere with the investigation,” prosecutor Joof told the court.

Superintendent Joof added that this are security matters, and very complicated, and granting them bail would be a threat to national security.

In response, defense counsel, Assan Martin, told the court that the defence was not opposing the application for adjournment; however, he was applying for bail as the alleged offence is bailable.

He said the accused persons were in remand custody since January 2011, and that the police had ample time to investigate the matter.

Counsel Martin added that this case does not require much investigation, and that holding the accused persons in custody tantamount to abuse of their constitutional rights, adding that the accused persons have no intention to interfere with the investigation.

The trial magistrate in his ruling reminded the court that, on the last adjournment date, the court ordered the prosecution to expedite their investigations within one week.

He added that this was not what happened, and the prosecution was now opposing bail for the accused persons, adding that by the next adjourned date the investigation into the matter should be completed.

The case was subsequently adjourned to 23 March 2011.