By Kebba Jeffang
State Lawyers yesterday announced their intention to indict others in the trial of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and 18 others.
Hadi Saleh Barkun the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who led the prosecution, applied to the court to enable the state to include additional accused persons in the trial of the leadership of the United Democratic Party (UDP) including the party leader Lawyer Ousainou Darboe.
However, he said there are some names that are omitted and due to that they wish to make an amendment to the indictment in order to include those names. He said for this reason, he is compelled to apply for an adjournment. He did not disclose the additional names.
In response, Counsel Antouman Gaye, who led the defence team, objected to the application. He did not like the delay and felt that there was no good reason given to warrant the adjournment.
“I would have expected him (the DPP) to apply for a stand down of the matter and add the names he wishes to add in the indictment. If he had made that application, we would not have objected; instead we would have cooperated. He has other options to do because he can open a new indictment for those people so that this matter can continue. These accused persons are in custody and adjournment means they will be remanded again. He did not tell the court how long the said adjournment will take. We urged the court to stand down the matter and order the DPP to regularize the indictment,” said Lawyer Gaye.
After an exchange between the defence and the prosecution the court decided to adjourn the matter till today, Thursday, 28th April, 2016 at noon for the amendment of indictment preceding the adoption of briefs for the bail application of the accused persons.
At this stage Lawyer Gaye applied to have all the voluntary and cautionary statements from state custody by virtue of the laws of the land. Justice Ottaba ordered the DPP to serve the defence with such documents.
At this point drama unfolded in court when there was push and pull between the defence lawyers, paramilitaries and a prison officer over the supply of food by the lawyers to the accused.
Lawyer Sisay Sabally made an application to the court to allow them to serve the accused with food and for some rights of the accused to be observed. In her application Lawyer Sisay recalled that the court made an order relating to the counsels and family members accessing the accused persons at Mile 2 as well as medical care and food from the families.
“Our clients said that order has not been complied with. We were told that only the counsels are allowed in while the family members are still been denied access to their loved ones at the state central prisons contrary to court order,” she said.
Lawyer Sisay Sabally added that, “the accused persons and in particular the 15th accused person Fanta Darboe sustained a severe injury on her finger and other parts and for the past 3 days, her dressing has not been removed. She and others have not accessed medical attention to their injuries, and this court has made this order.”
She informed the court that all the accused persons have been coming to the court with the same clothes, noting that they are remanded prisoners and not convicts.
“These accused persons need humane treatment in order to stand trial; this is a constitutional right. All court orders must be respected,” she said.
Lawyer Sisay Sabally also informed the court that, “we bought water and sandwich for our clients and the guards have denied the lawyers from distributing the food. We are saying that these remanded prisoners be allowed to access food. They are remanded by this court and this very court should order that this food and water are available to the accused persons. They are hungry and it is lunch time. Why should they be objected to food which is not a weapon?”
The DPP while admitting that the accused persons have a right to medical attention argued that this is available if they demand for it at mile 2, adding that there is a clinic in the prisons where they can get treatment. He added that food should be given to them through the prison officers.
Meanwhile, the court again ruled that the family members of the accused persons should be allowed to see their loved ones at the state central prisons as well as given proper medical care.
Eventually the accused left without the food provided by the lawyers but they were allowed to take sealed bottles of water with them.
Also, before the judge took his seat in a crowded court room, the mother of the missing Fatoumatta Jawara was heard crying out the name of his daughter. In her own words; “All have come and have been coming but Fatoumatta Jawara will not come. Where is she?”