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Banta Keita to be tried in absentia

Sep 2, 2021, 12:48 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

A High Court in Banjul presided over by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh has ordered that Banta Keita, alias Lassana Keita, be tried in absentia due to his conduct of evading prosecution, The Point has been reliably informed.

Justice Jaiteh also ordered a bench warrant for the arrest Mr. Keita. He equally ordered that Sheriff Njie be remanded at Mile Two Central Prison pending his arrangement before the High Court at Mile 7, Bakau, for plea taking and hearing.

It could be recalled that operatives of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia (DLEAG) in January this year, seized nearly three tonnes of cocaine from a shipment of industrial salt originating from Ecuador, amounting to over $88 million. It is reported to be the biggest ever cocaine seizure in the country by the narcotic agency.

The 118 bags weighed a gross 2tonnes, 952kg, and 850g. The cocaine was discovered during a search of a container shipped from the port of Guayaquil in Ecuador and through Algeciras in Spain, and then to the country.

Meanwhile, in his ruling, Justice Jaiteh, said: “Having heard learned Counsel M.D. Mballow moved his notice of motion exparte dated and filed the 17 August 2021. The notice of motion exparte is supported by an affidavit of 5 paragraphs sworn to by Lamin J. Gassama, the director of Intelligence and International Co-operation and the lead investigator of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, The Gambia. Attached to the supporting affidavit are two documents exhibited and marked as "LJ1" and "LJ2" respectively. I have perused the averments in the supporting affidavit and read the exhibits attached thereto and I am satisfied that the application has merit.”

“Accordingly, and pursuant Section 132 (1) (a) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia, Order 25 Rule 1 of the Rules of the High Court, Second Schedule and Order 4 Rules 6 and 7 of the First Schedule, Section 99 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 43A (1) of the Drug Control (Amendment) Act, 2010 and under the inherent jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the application is hereby granted as follows:

(1) A Bench warrant of arrest is hereby issued for the arrest of Banta Keita (alias Lassana Kante).

(2) It is hereby ordered that Sheriff Njie be remanded at Mile Two Central Prison pending his arraignment before the High Court at Mile 7, Bakau for plea taking and hearing.

(3) It is hereby ordered that Banta Keita (alias Lassana Keita) be tried in absentia due to his conduct of evading prosecution.

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