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Trial of six alleged demonstrators: Defence got free ride, says State counsel

May 26, 2016, 1:26 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye

State counsel Sheriff Kumba Jobe on 24 May 2016 told the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court that the defence got a free ride at the last court sitting, as regards the bail application granted in relation to the third accused, but it would be different this time round.

He made this pronouncement before Magistrate Abeke in the case involving Isatou Saidy, Lele Bojang, Sukai Dahaba, Kaddy Samateh, Fatoumata 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, state counsel S.K. Jobe represented the state.

Defence counsel Anna Njie represented the accused persons, who have a defence team led by counsel Sagarr Jahateh and Lubna Farage. Haddy Dandeh Jabbie is also part of the defence team.

The charge sheet was again read to the accused persons, including Lele Bojang who collapsed during the last sitting. They all pleaded not guilty.

This followed lawyer Anna Njie’s statement that during their last court appearance, the charge sheet was read to the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth accused persons, but the third accused person, Lele Bojang, did not take her plea because she was not in court.

She made an application on behalf of the third accused for bail based on the defence submission made on 19 May 2016, in the bail application on behalf of the other accused persons, which was granted by the court.

She urged the court, in the interest of justice, to apply the same ruling delivered on the bail application made on 19 May 2016.

State counsel Jobe told the court that the defence failed to make a proper application for the granting of bail to the third accused person, and that the granting of bail or otherwise was solely at the discretion of the court.

However, he continued, in the exercise of this discretion, the court must judicially and judiciously do so, adding that no reason was advanced by the defence for the court to consider to grant the third accused person bail.

He further stated that the previous bail granted to the accused persons, excluding the third accused person, was premised on special circumstances.

Jobe argued that there were no special circumstances during the sitting of 24 May 2016, before the court, adding that the state would have considered whether they would oppose the application or otherwise, had similar circumstances been advanced.

State counsel Jobe added that the previous bail application was granted, because consideration of the condition of the third accused person was among the factors that the state considered in not opposing the bail application.

In the light of these circumstances, he argued, the state would urge the court to do what is just in the case, and to grant the third accused person bail provided that the peace and tranquility the nation enjoys would be protected.

Therefore, he continued, they would not oppose bail subject to the convenience of the court to allow the accused person to reunite with society and her family members, and subject to stiff conditions.

He said they were urging the court not to use the same conditions that were attached to the previous bail application, adding that they wanted to crave the indulgence of court to order the accused person to deposit her travel documents as security to prevent her from jumping bail.

Defence counsel Anna Njie said that nothing was said by the state counsel that gave the reasons why he was not opposing bail.

Instead he said conditions should be stiff, and yet nothing had been said to the court why those conditions should be applied to the third accused person, Njie continued.

She further stated that when she said “nothing”, there was no evidence before the court to give reasons why the third accused person should deposit her travel documents.

In the absence of any tangible evidence in that regard, she argued, the objection by the state counsel should be disregarded by the court.

At this juncture, the state counsel said the defence counsel should reply on points of law.

Defence counsel Anna Njie stood up and argued that the court has powers under section 99 of the CPC to grant bail at its discretion, adding that since no cogent reasons were given by the state as to why stiff conditions should be given to the third accused person, she urged the court to grant bail to the third accused persons, and for the court to be guided by section 19 and 24 of the constitution in coming to a just conclusion.

In his ruling, Magistrate Abeke told the court that the accused persons were charged with the same offences, and that they were jointly charged and they should be given the same conditions, adding that the bail conditions should not be different.

He subsequently granted bail to the third accused person in the sum of D20,000 with a Gambian surety, who should swear to an affidavit of means and to surrender an ID card, and also to give a proper address and telephone number.

The case was adjourned until 6 June 2016, for hearing to commence.