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State files bill of indictment at High Court in case of six women

Jun 15, 2016, 3:08 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye & Isatou Senghore-Njie

State counsel Sheriff Kumba Jobe yesterday told the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court that the state had filed a bill of indictment at the High Court, in the case involving Isatou Saidy, Lele Bojang, Sukai Dahaba, Kaddy Samateh, Fatoumatta Sarr and Amie Touray.

They were charged with seven counts of conspiracy, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, holding procession without a permit and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.

When the case was called, defence lawyer Anna Njie rose and told the court she was representing the accused persons, along with Amie Jobe.

State counsel Jobe further stated that he had an application to make, adding that they had received the case file and the investigation report.

They had thoroughly studied the case file, he adduced, and that the state had advised itself to have the matter be heard by the High Court.

He said it was in the interest of justice that the case would be heard and determined by the High Court, where the accused persons would be provided adequate facility and time to prepare their defence, which is a fundamental right of the accused persons.

He added that they had filed a bill of indictment at the High Court, adding that they are yet to receive a hearing notice.

He further stated that whenever they receive the hearing notice, they would come back to the court to have the matter struck out.

In the interim, he said, they were applying for an adjournment, and craved the court’s indulgence to grant the application.

Lawyer Anna Njie then rose and said the case was adjourned for hearing for the prosecution to open their case.

She added that they had been informed by the state counsel that they had filed a bill of indictment at the High Court.

To that effect, she continued, the court has not been provided with the indictment, and there was nothing shown by the state counsel.

She argued that they could not have two cases on the same matter pending before two different courts, adding that if the state intended to proceed with the matter before the High Court, it was her submission that proper application should have been made to withdraw the case.

Anna Njie further argued that the indictment filed had to be brought to the attention of the accused persons, adding that it was trite law that the Attorney General could always file a case at the High Court, which is pending at the magistrates’ court.

In the circumstances, she continued, to grant an application for an adjournment until such a time the case filed at the High Court was properly received, would amount to injustice to the accused persons.

She said she could not see what was stopping them from withdrawing the case, adding that she was opposing the application made by the state counsel.

She adduced that it was either they proceed with the case or withdraw it. She, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the application.

State counsel Jobe in response told the court that the defence did not cite any law in opposing the application, adding that the defence counsel clothed herself with the unclear principle of abuse of process.

The defence counsel said that having the matter before the court, while awaiting the bill of indictment at the High Court, would amount to abuse of process.

Fortunately for the prosecution, and unfortunately for the defence counsel, there was no law cited to support her argument.

Jobe added that there is no law which states that they should withdraw the matter and that this was the proper thing to do, adding that they were minded on the consequence of withdrawing the matter at this juncture.

They refuse to take the recommendation made by counsel, Jobe told the court.

He said the defence counsel argued that granting an adjournment would cause grave injustice to the accused persons.

He saw no grave injustice to the accused, since they are on bail, and urged the court to grant them the application.

Magistrate Abeke then said he would not say anything as it was not the duty of the court to withdraw the case.

He further said as for adjournment, it was the discretion of the court to adjourn the case and, therefore, allowed for an adjournment applied by the state counsel.

At this juncture, Anna Njie told the court that at the time the accused persons were arrested, they had with them their personal belongings, which were taken from them.

She said some of them had money with them which were also taken from them, adding that they had written to the Police Intervention Unit to hand over their belongings, but nothing had happened.

Since “their belongings are in the custody of the state”, they apply that the court orders the state to hand over the belongings to the accused persons, and urged the court to grant the application.

State counsel Jobe in response said they were not opposing the application nor supporting it, adding that they had no idea about the personal belongings taken from the accused persons.

He said they could not make any comment about the said belongings, adding that since the defence had written to the PIU for recovery of the belongings of the accused persons, the proper thing to do was to wait for their reply.

In his ruling, the magistrate said that nothing about the personal belongings was known, and that the letter written to the PIU had not been provided by the defence before the court.

He said the court could not speculate about the said belongings.

He subsequently adjourned the case until 28 June 2016, for hearing.