Trial of 6 UDP Women Adjourned As State files an Indictment at High Court

By Rohey Jadama

Principal Magistrate Hilary Abeke of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court has yesterday, 14 June, granted the application of the Magistrate Hilary Abekeprosecution to adjourn the case of the six women of the United Democratic Party (UDP) as they have filed a new bill of indictment at the high court.

When the case was called, Lawyers Sheriff Kumba Jobe and Assiatou Sambou appeared for the state, while Lawyers Anna Njie and Amie Jobe announced their representation for all the 6 accused persons

“We have received the case file and the investigation report of this case   from the police. We have thoroughly studied the case and the state has advised itself to have this matter be heard by the high court. It is in the interest of justice that this case be heard and determine in the high court where this accused persons will be provided with the adequate time and facilities to prepare for their defence,” submitted Lawyer Jobe .

He continued “We have file a bill of indictment before the high court, however,  we are yet to receive hearing notice and whenever we receive it, we will come to this court to do the proper application. We are humbly applying for an adjournment and we crave the indulgence of   this court to grant our application,” she said.

Replying to the application of the state counsel, defence counsel Njie told the court that this matter was adjourned to 14 June (yesterday) for hearing and that they are now being informed by the state counsel that they have now decided to proceed with the case at the high court and that to that effect they have filed an indictment before the high court according to the state counsel.

“This court has not been provided with a copy of that indictment. It is clear that we cannot have two cases on the same matter pending before two different courts. If the state’s intention is to proceed with this case   before the high court, it my submission that the proper application is for the state to withdraw the suit. An indictment file has to be brought to the attention of the accused persons,” submitted the defence counsel.

Defence counsel Njie further submitted that it is trite that in this jurisdiction the Attorney General can always file a case at the high court. She said in this present circumstance to grant an application for an adjournment until such a time when the case filed at the high court is ready to proceed and then for the state come back to this court to make the proper application will be a great injustice against the accused persons.

“It is clear that they have filed, so I can’t see nothing stopping them from withdrawing this case. On that basis, I am opposing the application. Either we proceed with the hearing of the case in this court   or we withdraw it for these reasons. I urged this court to refuse the application of the state counsel,” said defence counsel Jobe.

In his reply on points of law, State counsel Jobe argued that the defence counsel did not cite any law to opposing his application. On the defence counsel’s argument that the state should withdraw this case since they have filed an indictment at the high court, Lawyer Jobe argued that there is no law that states that the proper thing to do is to withdraw this case since we have filed at the high court.

He further told the court that they are minded with the consequences of withdrawing this case at this juncture and that they will refuse to take the recommendation made by the defence counsel.  He said granting the application will not cause any injustice to the accused persons because they are on bail. He finally urged the court to grant their application.

In his ruling, Principal Magistrate Abeke said having listened to both parties he does not know how high court rules operate as to when a bill of indictment is filed. He said as such he cannot speculate. He said since the state did not raise the issue of withdrawal, the court cannot withdraw it.

He further ruled that as per section 99 of the criminal procedure code (CPC) parties are obliged to apply for an adjournment and that since the accused persons are under bail he will grant the application of the prosecution.

At this juncture, defence counsel Njie told the court that the accused persons at the time of their arrest, they had with them their personal belongings which were taken from them and some of them had monies with them which were also taken and that they have written to the Police Intervention Unit to hand over those belongings but nothing has happened.

She submitted that since the belongings of the accused persons are under the custody of the state, they are applying for the court to order for them to be handed over before the next adjourned date. She urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice.

Replying to the application, state counsel Jobe told the court that they are neither opposing nor conceding to the application of the defence counsel. He further told the court that they have no idea with respect of the personal belongings of the accused persons and therefore cannot make any comment on it.

Replying on points of law, Lawyer Njie said the state counsel earlier told the court that they have received the investigation report from the police and that she believes that the said report should contain the details of the accused persons. She further told the court that she has made an application to this court and that she is urging the court to grant same.

In his ruling, the presiding magistrate held that the defence counsel did not produce the letter written to the Police Intervention Unit and that the list of the personal belongings and the amounts of the money were not mentioned by the defence counsel, adding that as such the court cannot speculate the amounts involved and the personal belongings of the accused persons. He said therefore, the court shall not make any order.

Subsequently the case was adjourned to the 28 of June, 2016 at 10am for hearing.

The six accused persons are Kaddy Samateh, a lactating mother of a month old baby, Isatou Saidy, Lele Bojang, Sukai Dahaba, Fatou Sarr and Amie Touray.

The six are facing seven counts charges of ’Conspiracy to commit felony’,  ‘Unlawful assembly’, ‘Riot’, ‘Incitement of violence’, ‘Riotously interfering with vehicles, ‘Holding procession without a permit’, and ‘Disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession’.