Jun 12, 2017, 11:43 AM
The accused persons are Lamin Sonko, Modou Touray, Lansana Beyai, Lamin Marong, Alhajie Fatty, Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara, Fatou Camara, Kafu Bayo, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngum.
They were charged with seven counts of unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, holding a procession without a permit, disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession and conspiracy.
All the accused persons chose to remain mute throughout the proceedings, during tendering of exhibits as well as in cross-examination.
When the case was called, A.M. Yusuf appeared for the state along with A. Bah while the accused persons were unrepresented.
A.M. Yusuf then informed the court that the matter was slated for continuation of the hearing, and he has his witnesses in court.
In his testimony, the third prosecution witness, Sherifo Ceesay, said he lives in Busumbala and is attached to Kanifing Police Intervention Unit.
“I recognise all the accused persons. I came to know them on 14 April 2016 when there was a problem and they were arrested and brought to the PIU base in Kanifing. I was among the arresting officers.
“On 14 April 2016 at around 14:45 to 15:00 whilst on standby at Kanifing PIU, we had an emergency phoning and boarded the truck to Westfield. Upon arrival at Westfield, we found a large group of people with their banners, whistles, P.A. system advocating what they wrote on their banners: ‘Why borders are closed’, ‘Gambians are hungry’. ‘Yahya must go’, ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘we need electoral reform’. ‘No 5th term for dictator’ and the whistles were blowing.”
He added: “Our command immediately stood down from the vehicles, and asked them whether they had a permit. No permit was shown. Our command warned them to disperse peacefully and go after their lawful businesses. They were still there, and after some time our command warned them again in a different language and they still stayed there.”
He further stated that their command ordered them to disperse the crowd, and some of them were arrested and their banners, P.A. system and whistles were taken from them.
“They were then escorted back to our base in Kanifing P.I.U and handed over to our command,” he further told the court.
State counsel A.M. Yusuf asked the witness if he was shown the items they seized from the accused persons he would be able to identify them.
The witness said: “There was a white flag written with markers and the body of the P.A. system is white with a blue mouthpiece, and the whistles are many and in different colours.”
The items were shown to him in court and he identified them and counsel Yusuf applied to tender them in court.
The trial Judge, Justice Abi, then called the witnesses each by their names and asked them if they have any objection to the tendering of the items but they remained silent.
The trial judge then said: “From the 1st to the 11th accused were all called upon and asked if they had any objection to the tendering of the items, but they all remained mute. I ruled that they have no objection to the tendering of the items, and they are accordingly admitted and marked in evidence as exhibits.”
The trial judge then again called all the accused persons by their names accordingly, and asked them if they have any questions for the witness, but they all chose to remain silent.
The trial judge then said: “I hereby ruled that they have no questions to ask, so the witness is hereby discharged.”
Testifying as the fourth prosecution witness was Lamin N. Jammeh, a police officer attached to the Fraud Squad Unit at Police headquarters in Banjul, as an investigator. He said that on 19 and 21 April 2016, he was assigned to record the statements of Lansana Beyai, Lamin Marong and Fatou Camara.
He said he cautioned them one after the other.
He added that he brought out the cautionary form and read out the cautionary wordings to the accused persons in the language they understand, and asked them if he (the witness) could record their statements for them or they could record it by themselves.
He said he was allowed to record their statements, and they narrated their own side of the story and he wrote it down and read it over to them; they thumb-printed and he endorsed the statements.
The statements were shown to him in court and he identified them and the state applied to tender the statements in court.
The accused were then asked if they had any objection to the tendering of the said statements, but they remained silent. The documents were tendered in court and marked in evidence as exhibits.
The trial judge again asked them if they had any questions for the witness, but they as well remained silent and the witness was discharged.
The fifth prosecution witness, Bakary Darboe, a police officer attached to the Major Crime Unit at Police headquarters in Banjul, said he recorded the statement of Nogoi Njie and took the court through a similar process of obtaining her statement.
Nogoi was then asked by the trial judge if she had any objection to the tendering of the documents, but she remained silent. The statement was then tendered in court and marked in evidence as an exhibit.
All the accused persons were then asked if they have any questions for the witness, but they remained silent.
Testifying as the sixth prosecution witness was Saikou Keita, a police officer, who said he recorded the statements of Modou Touray, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngum and also took the court through the same process of obtaining statements.
The accused persons were then asked by the court if they have any objection to the tendering of the statements, but they remained mute.
The statements were then tendered in court and marked in evidence as exhibits. The trial judge then asked them again if they had any questions for the witness, and they remained silent.
The case continues today at 10 a.m.