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Spanish nationals risk jail if...

Sep 21, 2010, 1:09 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The special narcotics court at the Banjul Magistrates' Court has ordered two convicted Spaniards to pay a fine of D300, 000 each or risk going to jail for five years with hard labour at the State Central Prison Mile 2.

Magistrate Abeke convicted the Spaniards following the duo's plea of guilt to charges of being in possession of the prohibited drug cannabis.

The Spanish duo were arrested by anti narcotics officers in the coastal town of Sanynag on 5th August 2010 for being in possession of cannabis.

The convicted persons are: Roger Gallifa Margant who was found in possession of 35grams and 640mg of cannabis, while his country mate, Alex Guillem Pizzaro Estudiou, was also found in possession of 26grams and 280mg of cannabis sativa.

The prosecuting narcotics officer, NCA 5 Jallow, narrated the facts of the matter and tendered exhibits before the court, and both admitted the facts of the case as narrated by the prosecutor, as the truth of what happened on 5th August 2010.

In passing sentence, Magistrate Hilary Abeke stated that the convicts were charged separately with one count of being in possession of prohibited drug, which both pleaded guilty to when the indictment were read and interpreted to them in the Spanish language.

He said the defence counsel had challenged the jurisdiction of the court, and that this was overruled after a court ruling to that effect.

The accused persons, Magistrate Abeke added, accepted the charge without hesitation, and the court subsequently found them guilty of the offence charged.

Pleading on behalf of their clients, counsel Combeh Gaye-Cooker and Neneh Cham, both said the convicts had good characters and had no previous conviction in both The Gambia and in Spain.

"The convicts are in The Gambia working for their Association (Projecta Braka) assisting local communities, and clinics by donating materials, among others," counsel noted.

They urged the court to use its discretion by imposing a fine rather than a custodial sentence, which they said would have serious impact on the young Spaniards.

Counsel said the convicted persons have vowed not to repeat such an act here in the Gambia and in Spain, and have shown remorse for what happened.

They said that since their arrest on 5th August 2010, they have been in custody, while urging the court to temper justice with mercy.

Magistrate Abeke convicted and sentenced each of them to a fine of D300, 000 in default to serve five years in prison with hard labour.

The magistrate further ordered that if the money is paid, 75 percent be paid to National Drug Enforcement Agency, while 25 percent paid to the state?s account.

He said the convicted persons have the right to appeal within 30 days.