Convicts on Dec. 30th Attack Appear at Appeal Court

By Mamadou Dem

The six soldiers that were convicted and sentenced by a court martial yesterday appeared at the Court of Appeal in Banjul presided Modou Njieover by Hon. Justice Edrisa F M’bai (President of the Court of Appeal) alongside with Hon. Justice  Naceesay Sallah Wadda (Justice of Appeal) and Hon. Justice O.A  Adegoke (Justice of Appeal) for review of their case.

It would be recalled that a handful of assailants mounted an early morning assault on the presidential palace on December 30 last year which was referred to as efforts to plot and topple The Gambia Government.

When the case was called in a quiet courtroom yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Sadi Haleh Barkun announced his appearance for the state with a team of state lawyers while barristers Borry S Touray and Ngozi of legal aids announced their representation for the appellants.

DPP SH Barkun informed the court that the name of the appellants and the respondent {the state} were not mentioned in the bill of notice. He submitted that the bill of notice only indicated names as first, second, third, fourth, fifth and six appellants respectively.

According to the DPP, under normal circumstances the name of the appellants should be mentioned but that was not the case in this matter and he therefore urged the court to dismiss the bill of notice.

Reacting to the DPP contention, Barrister Touray challenged that DPP was introducing a new procedure and they were taken by surprise prompting him to seek for two weeks adjournment to enable them to appear in a right manner.

“My lord, the nature of the offence is severe and being that the case, may I apply for two weeks adjournment to enable us to proceed with the matter in a right manner,” he appealed.

However the DPP submitted that counsel cannot be heard because they were not appearing for any party in the case and therefore they cannot seek for an adjournment.

After listening to both parties, the three judges unanimously adjourned the matter till April 26 for mention.

Private Modou Njie was put on trial before a closed-door military court along with five military officers who were arrested in the wake of the failed attack on State House and Charged with treason, conspiracy and mutiny.

Mr. Njie, along with Lieutenant-Colonel Sarjo Jarju and Lieutenant Buba Sanneh, were also charged with assisting the enemy and sentenced to death when the verdicts were handed down by the court martial with a retired judge, Justice Amadi serving as judge advocate.

Those that were sentenced to life in prison included Captain Buba K. Bojang, Lieutenant Amadou Sowe and Captain Abdoulie Jobe.

Dissatisfied with the verdict of the military court martial, the six military officers are now exercising their right of appeal to the appellate court. The court martial that took place was done in secret and the panel consisted of military personnel. Efforts by media houses to cover proceedings at the time of the trial proved futile.