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Twist in cocaine 4 trial as three plead guilty

Nov 25, 2010, 11:23 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Muminatou Ceesay, Fernando Varala and Ephraim Michel Chiduben Tuesday pleaded guilty to a charge of being in possession of three parcels of cocaine, a prohibited drug.

They previously denied the charge, when they were first arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, warranting the prosecution to call witnesses, before their admission of the charge.

When the trial resumed on Tuesday, defence counsel Emmanuel E. Chime applied for the charge to be read to the accused persons again.

Consequently, the charge was re-read to them and Muminatou Ceesay, Fernando Varala and Ephraim Michel Chiduben pleaded guilty to the charge of being in possession of three parcels of cocaine.

Narrating the facts of the case, the prosecuting officer, chief inspector Abdoulie Ceesay, told the court that the three were arrested in connection with drugs on 12 May 2010 at Brusubi Taf Housing Estate.

He said the NDEA officers received a tip-off that there were some foreign nationals involved in drug dealing.

“Upon arrival at the residence of the accused persons, the officers introduced themselves to the accused persons as narcotics officers before conducting a search,” he narrated.

The officers, chief Inspector Ceesay added, discovered three parcels of suspected cocaine in the said residence, and subsequently arrested the accused persons.

He narrated that during the interrogation, the first accused, Muminatou Ceesay, confessed to the officers that the suspected drugs were given to her by the 4th accused, who was at the time residing at the Cocoa-Ocean Hotel.

Chief Inspector Ceesay further narrated that the 4th accused was later arrested at the Cocoa-Ocean Hotel, and confessed to the officers that he gave one parcel to the 1st accused.

“The three parcels of suspected cocaine were taken for analytical test and confirmed to be true cocaine,” he added.

The three parcels of cocaine, voluntarily statements, confessional statement, analytical report and weighing certificate were later admitted and tendered in court as exhibits.

In his plea of mitigation on behalf of the accused persons, defence counsel Chime told the court that the accused persons pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against them without wasting the court’s time.

That means they have now admitted the responsibility of being in possession of the three parcels of cocaine, he said.

Counsel Chime further said that the court has power to impose a fine, a short sentence or even acquit and discharge the accused persons, as “they are first-time offenders”.

He cited law authorities to further convince the court.

“The first accused person is a mother and has a serious operation on her womb, and custodial sentence may cause hardship to her,” counsel Chime said.

He added that “the second accused person is a caring father”, and because of his continued absence, “the whole family is presently in The Gambia from Cape Verde”.

Counsel disclosed that the 4th accused had lost two of his family members, and they are in the mortuary waiting for his arrival for burial.

He also urged the court to temper justice with mercy on the accused persons.

Magistrate Nkea, at this juncture, adjourned the case to 29 November 2010 for sentencing.