May 15, 2009, 6:51 AM
Kaddy Samateh, who was breastfeeding her one-month-old baby, was crying as they were escorted into the courtroom by PIU officers.
Lawyer Yassin Senghore announced her representation along with Lawyers Anna Njie, Sagarr Jahateh and Haddy Dandeh Njie for the accused persons.
Sub-Inspector Colley stood up and told the court that he was representing the Inspector General of Police, and with him were Sub-Inspector Bobb, Sergeant 2118 Gomez and CpL 1542 Mendy.
Lawyer Senghore applied for a stand down to have audience with the accused persons for fifteen minutes, adding that the accused were in custody for two days and they had no access to their families.
She said she wanted privacy to sit and discuss with the accused persons.
Sub-Inspector Colley objected to the application for the accused to go out of the court, but said there was no problem with the defence counsel to have audience with the accused persons, adding that they were applying for the defence counsel to hold her briefing with the accused, with the exclusion of the security officers, in the courtroom.
He said it should be compliant with the provision of the Evidence Act, that is, lawyer-client privilege with which the security officers would not interfere and with respect.
He further stated that there was no need for the defence counsel to hold briefing with the accused outside the court, adding that they would urge the court to refuse the defence counsel’s application to hold briefing with the accused outside the court, for security reasons.
Magistrate Abeke granted the application made by the defence to hold briefing with the accused, and said the security officers should sit from a short distance in the court.
The case was then stood down for fifteen minutes.
The prosecutors alleged that Isatou Saidy, Lele Bojang, Sukai Dahaba, Kaddy Samateh, Fatoumata Sarr and Amie Touray, with intent to breach the peace and to provoke other persons to breach same, unlawfully assembled in a manner that caused fear in the neighbourhood, on 9 May 2016 at Westfield, Kanifing, and diverse places in The Gambia.
It was also alleged that the accused persons on the same day and place, with intent to breach the peace and to provoke other persons to breach same, unlawfully assembled without a permit with intent to breach the peace and to cause terror to the public.
The bill of indictment further stated that the accused persons on the same day and place published banners with statements calculated to lead to the destruction or damage to properties.
The accused persons were alleged to have jointly held a public procession without a permit from the Inspector General of Police on the same day and place.
It was also alleged that the accused persons conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace on the same day and place.
The bill of indictment went further to state that the accused persons on the same day and place conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace.
Prosecutors alleged that the accused persons on the same day and place conducted themselves in a public place by using abusive or insulting words likely to cause a breach of the peace.
When the court resumed after the stand down, lawyer Senghore rose and argued that she had gone through the case file, but did not see any consent of the Attorney General for the prosecution of the case.
She applied for counts one, two, three and four to be struck out for lack of competence.
She said it would be proper for the prosecution to put their house in order.
She further stated that the accused persons were from detention and applied for the accused persons to be granted bail, adding that the court has the power to grant the accused persons bail.
Defence counsel Senghore adduced that one of the accused persons is breastfeeding her baby, adding that Kaddy Samateh also has a one-month-old child and that two other accused persons are widows and are taking care of their children.
She said that one of the accused persons was limping, adding that she had no problem with the court adjourning the case, but she expressed her concerns about sending the accused back to where they came from.
She further stated that the accused persons were asked to clean where they were detained, and that some of them who are not well had not got any treatment.
Sub-Inspector Colley, who was leading the prosecution team, stood up and argued that the application made by the defence counsel was premature.
He added that the defence had made objections that counts one, two, three and four should be struck out because they “are incompetent” to which the prosecution had not reacted, and the court also had not ruled on that for the reason that some of the accused persons were sick and the court could not try someone who is sick.
He further stated that the court had not taken the plea of the accused persons, and therefore the court could not grant bail to such persons.
He adduced that the defence counsel had referred the court to section 59 (b) subsection(2) for the court to grant the accused persons bail on the said section.
However, he continued, the same section has some exceptions, further submitting that by the wordings of the exceptions, the court has the discretion to remand the accused persons for a period of 14 days in custody and not to grant bail to the accused persons.
He urged the court to dismiss the application made by the defence and for the court to order for the accused to be taken back to where they came from for health reasons.
At this juncture, one of the accused persons who was limping, nearly collapsed in the dock.
The magistrate then asked her to sit down.
Defence counsel Jahateh rose and said they were objecting to the prosecution’s application to dismiss the defence application.
She submitted that as said by the prosecution, for the accused to be returned to where they came from, and their denial of bail, was a violation of section 19 of the constitution, adding that the detention of the accused persons was illegal and in violation of section 19 of the constitution.
“If the court allows the PIU officers to take back the accused persons to where they came from, it would violate their rights. Suspects must be brought at most within a period of 72 hours,” she further argued.
Counsel Jahateh submitted that it is trite law that without a remand order by a court, detaining a suspect for more than the required period is illegal, adding that any further detention of the accused persons would be a violation of section 19 of the constitution.
She said the court must take the bull by the horn either to remand the accused persons or to release them conditionally or unconditionally; that is, to discharge them until the prosecution put their house in order.
Counsel Jahateh further stated that if the accused persons were released conditionally, they should be granted bail, adding that the defence had put forward compelling reasons which are recognized under the law of The Gambia why the accused persons should be granted bail under section 19 of the constitution.
She argued that all the offences are bailable and that the health of the accused persons was at stake, urging the court to admit the accused persons to bail and order for them not to be further detained at the PIU headquarters.
“The court must protect the rights of the accused persons who are innocent. Denying them bail would be tantamount to punishing them,” she told the court.
In his ruling, Magistrate Abeke said that he agreed with the defence that the prosecution should put their house in order.
He further stated that the prosecution did not receive the consent of the Attorney General to prosecute the case.
He ordered the prosecution to put their house in order.
He said he could not send Kaddy Samateh, who is breastfeeding one-month-old baby, to be further detained, adding that her baby has not done anything.
He ordered for the accused persons who are not well to be taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
He finally odered for all the accused persons to be given police bail.
case was adjourned for today.