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‘The court is eager to convict us,’ says Darboe

Jun 29, 2016, 12:51 PM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

(Issue Tuesday June 28, 2016)

The leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), lawyer Ousainou Darboe, yesterday said the court was eager to convict them, in the case involving him and 19 others before Justice E.O. Dada at the Banjul High Court.

Darboe made this remark when the court granted the DPP’s application to recall PW4, Domingo Memba, to tender The Point newspaper publication dated 18 April 2016, without asking the accused persons for their reaction to the application.

When the case was called, the DPP with a team of state lawyers appeared for the state, while the accused persons were unrepresented.

The DPP then said: “I am making an application to recall Domingo Memba, PW4, to tender The Point newspaper’s publication, which came to our attention during the investigation and the application is brought under section 123 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”

The trial Judge Dada then said the application to recall PW4 was granted.

Darboe rose and said: “An application has been made which affects us and we have not been asked if we had any objection. This shows that this court is eager to convict us.”

The trial judge, however, just looked at him and said nothing, while the witness was recalled to enter the witness box.

Upon entering the witness box, Domingo Memba, PW4, was asked by the DPP if he remembered testifying before the court, saying he recovered some items which had been tendered in court like shields, and he said “yes”.

PW4 said as head of the investigating panel they were also able to lay their hands on The Point newspaper publication dated 18 April 2016.

He said the publication stated that Darboe and Co were going to hold a press conference without a permit.

He then said again that Darboe and Co said they were going to carry on their press conference and march-past.

The DPP then asked him what he meant by march-past, and the witness said a protest.

He was then asked how he would be able to identify the newspaper, and he said he would identify it by its colours, headling, volume (which is 082) and the picture of the 1st accused, Darboe.

The Point newspaper dated 18 April 2016 with the headline: “Darboe, other UDP top brass arrested” was shown to him in court and he identified it and the DPP applied to tender it in court.

The trial judge then asked the accused persons if they had any objection to the tendering of the newspaper.

Darboe again rose and said: “I don’t know what the meaning of this when my right to object to a witness being recalled is denied. What is the essence of objecting or not objecting to this paper?”

The rest of the accused remained mute.

The trial judge said the reaction of the 1st accused was noted and that the document was considered relevant and, therefore, admitted and marked in evidence as an exhibit.

Under cross-examination, Darboe said: “I have already indicated my position as far as this trial is concerned.”

The rest of the accused remained mute.

The trial judge said the reaction of the 1st accused was noted, and the rest of the accused persons were recorded as mute.

The DPP then said that was the case of the prosecution.

The trial judge then informed the accused persons that the prosecution had closed their case, and if they wanted to open their defence they could do so.

Darboe then said he would have expected the court to ask them if they needed time to prepare for their defence, because so many witnesses testified.

He said they knew their rights as accused persons had been disregarded and ignored.

The trial proceeded in the midst of a crowded courtroom attended by the deputy UDP leader and leader of the National Reconciliation Party Hamat Bah, as well as other UDP supporters and family members of the accused persons.

There was heavy and tight security, both in and outside of the court premises all the way to the Arch 22.

The case was then adjourned until 4 July 2016, at 12 pm, for defence.