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State to file 12 counts against cocaine suspects

Sep 1, 2010, 2:50 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, M. Abdullahi, yesterday told the narcotics court at the Banjul Magistrates' Court that the state wants to file a 12-count charge against the twelve accused persons, but due to the absence of the court registrar they could not do so.

Deputy DPP M. Abdullahi went on to inform the court that the matter was for plea taking but that, as indicated earlier, the state intends to amend the charges to make them more detailed and comprehensive against the accused persons.

He said the state was proposing to take the plea of the accused persons on the previous one-count charge of conspiracy, and by the next adjournment date to substitute the fresh 12-count charge or to adjourned the case in order to file the new charges against the accused persons.

According to him, the incoming court registrar had informed him that the handing over would be completed by Thursday so the new charge sheet can be filed on 2nd September 2010.

In response, defence counsel E E. Chime representing the 8, 9, 10 and 12 accused persons told the court that he has no objection to the application made by the DDPP, and has left it entirely at the discretion of the court.

Lawyer Lamin S Camara who represented the 1, 2,3, 4,5,6,7 and 11 accused persons told the court that he was not opposing a date for plea taking. He pointed out that filing of the new charges is very easy, and should not delayed the court's proceedings.

LS Camara told the court that since there is going to be substitution of the charge, the previous records would no longer be relevant in the proceedings, and that justice delayed is justice denied.

Readers would recall that sometime in the month of May 2010, the accused persons were arrested and arraigned before the narcotics court for allegedly being in possession of cocaine amounting to two and half tonnes.

According to the charge sheet, all the accused persons, between the year 2009 and 12th May 2010, at a warehouse in Bonto, in Brufut and several other places in The Gambia, conspired amongst themselves and others now at large, to traffic in various measures of cocaine and other prohibited drugs totalling more than two and a half tonnes.

The accused persons are: Maimuna Sesay, a Nigerian/Sierra Leonean national, Fernando Varela, a Cape Verde/Dutch national, Barset Goodwin, a Ghanaian/Sierra Leonean, Ephriam Micheal Chiduben, a Nigerian national, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Eric Bottini, Dose Fermin, Juan Carlos Diaz, and Esteaban Zavala, all Venezuelan nationals, George Sanchez, a Mexican/Liberian national, as well as Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi and Dennis Wilgo Winter, both Dutch nationals.