Jun 25, 2010, 2:45 PM
The Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by acting-principal Magistrate Lamin Mbye, recently convicted a soldier and a civilian after they pleaded guilty to dealing and transferring firearms and live round ammunitions.
Alieu Loum, Jerreh Manneh and Karanta Darboe were charged with eleven counts, including having firearms without authority, keeping firearms in other places than a public or private warehouse without lawful authority, transfer of firearms without authority, dealing in firearms and conspiracy to commit felony.
State prosecutors alleged that the three men were found with a firearm (a semi-automatic pistol) and four live rounds of ammunition.
They further accused them of transferring and dealing in firearms without a permit granted to them by the prescribed authority.
On the allegation of dealing in firearms, Mr Loum and Mr Darboe are accused of selling a firearm to Mr Manneh (the second accused) at a cost of D10,000 while Mr Manneh was accused of buying the said firearm from the two men.
Mr Manneh pleaded guilty to all the charges. Mr Loum pleaded guilty to all the charges, except the charge of keeping firearm and conspiracy. Mr Darboe denied all the charges.
The court then convicted and sentenced Mr Loum and Mr Manneh to a fine of D50,000 each in default to serve a year in prison with hard labour.
They were convicted after they pleaded with the magistrate to show mercy.
Mr Loum told the court: “I did not sell the pistol to harm anyone. Presently, my wife is pregnant and I have been under NIA custody for six weeks.”
Jerreh Manneh, in his mitigation plea, urged the court to temper justice with mercy. “I’m the first child of my mother. I’m newly married and I have not seen my wife for weeks. I did not buy the gun to harm anyone. I was at the NIA for six weeks. Even with that, I accepted all the charges at the NIA.”
In passing sentence, the magistrate said “the offences listed in the eleven counts are very serious, and they cannot go unpunished. Going around town with a loaded gun is a threat to the general public. It is also a threat to the security of the state. I therefore sentence them to a fine of D50,000 or in default they will serve one year imprisonment with hard labour.”
Meanwhile, Mr Darboe was released on bail in the sum of D150,000 with two Gambian sureties with valid identity cards.
Mr Loum will also be released on bail on the same conditions, if he fulfils the terms of his sentence.
The case will resume October 8 for hearing.