By Rohey Jadama
The seven missing people said to be linked to the 14 April Westfield event, including Fatoumata Jawara, the Chairperson of the Women’s Wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP), and her assistant, Nogoie Njie, have appeared before the Special Criminal Court of the Banjul High Court for the first time for staging a demonstration.
The other five that were also arraigned in court before Justice O. Ottaba on Thursday, 4 May, 2016 included Fatou Camara, Modou Ngum, Kafu Bayo, Kalilou Saidykhan and Ebrima Jabang.
After taking their pleas, all the seven accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the seven counts charges leveled against them by the state.
As the matter was for the adoption of briefs for the bail application for the previous 18 people, the court proceeded to adopt the briefs of both the prosecution and defence before adjourning for ruling.
When the case was called, Hadi Saleh Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told the court that the case is for adoption of written briefs.
Responding to the DPP, Lawyer Antouman Gaye said they are not served with the respondent’s brief and as such are applying for a stand down to enable them to react to it. He added that they took the copy from the state representatives in court because they do not want to waste time.
However, the trial judge ruled that the matter should continue without a stand down.
“We are applying for the adoption of the motions dated 25 and 26 April, 2016. We also urge your lordship to deem our reply on points of law adopted when filed. I respectfully urge the court to grant all the prayers in the motion and admit the applicants to bail,” submitted Lawyer Gaye.
While also adopting his briefs, dated 3 May, the DPP urged the court to refuse the applicants bail.
At this stage, the DPP told the court that he wishes to amend the charge sheet dated 20 April, 2016.
“Subject to that, may I apply that the charge sheet filed on the 2016 be amended with the one dated 28 April and filed on the 3 May 2016. The genesis of the amendment is to add 7 accused persons and an additional count of conspiracy. They are listed 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25,” he submitted.
There was no objection from the defence team.
At this juncture, the trial judge adopted the applicants and respondents briefs. He also ruled that the applicant’s reply on points of law is deemed adopted.
At this point, Barrister Gaye informed the court that they have filed their reply on points of law and that the DPP was served. He also told the court that before the additional 7 accused persons take their pleas he wished to draw the court’s attention to the amended information.
He argued that they were not served with a summary of the evidence and the list of witnesses.
However, the DPP insisted that the defence team was served.
“We were not served with them. My learned friend served us that of Darboe and co case. Under the court rules, each and every accused person is entitled to a copy,” said Lawyer Gaye.
In response, the DPP argued that serving the defence is not mandatory and that they are not obliged to serve each accused person with a copy since they are all represented by the same counsels. “I don’t see the need to serve them with 25 copies,” said the DPP.
The trial judge intervened and ordered the DPP to serve all the 25 accused persons with a copy of the list of witnesses, summary of witnesses and list of exhibits.
The State also announced their intention of adding an additional ‘conspiracy to commit felony charge’ thus bringing the total charges to 7 counts. These charges were read to all the 25 accused persons individually and each of them pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The defence informed the court that they intend to file a bail application for the recent additional accused persons by tomorrow (today).
The case was at this juncture adjourned to Wednesday, 11 May, 2016 at 12 noon for ruling on the bail application.