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Sillaba's sister charged, remanded

Aug 12, 2010, 12:08 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The Banjul Magistrates' Court on Tuesday remanded in custody one Ms Jankeh Samateh, who stood as surety to Sillaba Samateh, pending the outcome of the case.

The trial magistrate further ordered that she be kept under strict security surveillance at all times, particularly by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in order to help apprehend Sillaba Samateh.

Ms Jankeh Samateh was arraigned before Magistrate Hilary U Abeke, charged with aiding a prisoner to escape, a charge which she vehemently denied.

Sillaba Samateh was the 1st prosecution witness in the criminal trial involving ex-police chief Ensa Badjie and two other senior military officers, Lt. Col. Mam Matar Secka and Major Kuluteh Manneh, and reportedly absconded before completing his testimony.

According to the particulars of offence, Ms Jankeh Samateh sometime in the year 2010 at Banjul and other places in The Gambia within the jurisdiction of the court aided Sillaba Samateh to escape from lawful custody by taking him on bail from the NIA, and then facilitated his escape to Holland.

When the case was called, defense counsel Lamin Camara told the court that the defense was not served with any charge sheet pertaining to the case, and that the defense was objecting to plea-taking.

He said the accused person's plea could not be taken because she did not know the content of the charges. Counsel, therefore, urged the court not to call the accused to enter into her plea.

In response, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DDPP), M. Abdullahi told the court that he was surprised that the defense counsel said they were not served with the charge sheet.

He said the state had filed an affidavit of motion, dated the 26th July 2010 and exhibited the charge before the court. He added that the defense responded to the affidavit of motion, dated 28th July 2010.

The defence counsel's objection was later overruled, and her plea was subsequently taken.

Defense counsel Lamin Camara then applied for bail. He told the court that the ruling for the bail application is pending at the high court, and that this court has the jurisdiction to grant the accused person bail.

Lawyer Camara further said the poor woman had spent 55 days in the custody of the NIA without bail. He told the court that the bail application at the high court is precisely on the charge before the court.

Counsel, therefore, urged the court to exercise its discretion to grant the poor woman bail.

Deputy DDP M. Abdoullahi, in response told the court that the prosecution was opposing bail for the accused person. "Counsel told the court that there is pending ruling for bail application at the high court on behalf of his client. How can two applications be made for bail for the same person, on the same terms and conditions?" he asked.

M. Abdoullahi, therefore, urged the court to refuse the accused person bail.

The trial magistrate consequently refused the defence counsel's bail application, and ordered the accused person to be kept in custody and put under surveillance at all times.

The case was adjourned to 18th August 2010.        

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