Nov 12, 2009, 12:44 PM
The trial opened Monday of 14 supporters of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), at the Brikama Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Dayoh M. Small-Dago, with the testimonies of two prosecution witnesses.
They were charged with unlawful assembly and prohibition of conduct conducive to a breach of the peace, which they all denied.
The accused persons are Lamin Marong, Lamin Sonko, Foday Gassama, Maimuna Darboe, Ousman Drammeh, Sherrif Kinteh, Jerreh Fatty, Fakebba Colley, Sirreh Sonko, Bakary Gibbba, Wandifa Kinteh, Kawsu Jaiteh, Yaya Njai, and Lamin Njai.
First to testify was one Musa Manneh, the alkalo of Madiana village, who said he is a farmer and recognised the accused persons.
He recalled that on 14 February 2014 at around 4:30pm, there was a meeting in his village which he was not aware of. He said he was not told about convening a meeting in his village, only heard that there was such a meeting in the village.
Asked by the prosecutor if he knew the people conducting the meeting, the village head said he knew Lamin Njai, Wandifa Kinteh and Martin Dibba.
The first prosecution witness said he heard that there was a meeting organised by the UDP, and went out to make enquiries, and was told it was UDP people who were having a meeting.
He said he then called the Tujereng Police Station, and told them that there are people having a meeting in his village and whether they gave them a permit to do so.
The police said they did not give any permit to anyone to stage a public meeting, the alkalo said, adding that the police later came, arrested them and took them to the police station.
It was at the station where he recognised Lamin Njai, Sherrif Kinteh and Wandifa Kinteh, who all live in Madiana.
The witness added that he made a statement to the police regarding the case.
Also testifying was ASP Bahoum, the station officer atTujereng Police Station, who told the court that he received a phone call from the alkalo of Madiana village, who said he saw people under a mango tree, having a gathering.
He said the police went to the village, and saw a lot of people, both men and women, sitting on plastic chairs. They greeted them, and asked about the purpose of being there, and whether they had a permit.
ASP Barhoum said they told the police not to ask them any questions. The second prosecution witness added that he later told them to report to the station, but they refused.
Consequently, five of them were arrested and taken for questioning, while the rest reported to the charge office.
ASP Bahoum said they were engaged in a political gathering and should ask for a permit from the Inspector General of Police. Under cross-examination by defence counsel Ousainou Darboe, the alkalo said he talked to the station officer, ASP Barhoum.
He added that he recognised Lamin Njai, Sherrif Kinteh and Wandifa Kinteh as UDP supporters.
Asked by counsel which party he belongs to, the witness said the APRC party.
Asked to tell the court which law said anyone, be it NRP or UDP, has to inform him first before having a meeting, the witness said the existing law said that anyone coming to his village for such should inform him first.
Also responding to questions by counsel, ASP Barhoum said he went there because he was told by the alkalo that UDP were having a meeting.
He further told the court that they were arrested for unlawful assembly. Hearing continues.