By Rohey Jadama
Justice Eunice O. Dada of the Banjul High Court has yesterday ruled in favour of the prosecution that the Sedition and publication of False news trial of Mr. Abdoulie Ceesay, the Managing Director of Taranga Fm Radio Station will proceed in his absence.
When the case was called Hadi Saleh Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appeared for the state, while Lawyer Combeh Gaye announced her representation of the accused person.
In her ruling Justice Dada said the accused person was charged with 7 counts of sedition and publication of false News to which he pleaded not guilty.
She said the principal prison officer told the court that the accused person complained of ill health and was taken to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital where he escaped while receiving treatment.
Justice Dada said Lawyer Gaye, defence counsel of the accused, said in view of the absence of the accused person she needs to address court whether the case can proceed in his absence. She said the defence counsel referred the court to section 24 of the constitution. She added that counsel argued that charges against the accused person deal with his freedom of expression and that this case cannot proceed in his absence.
Justice Dada said the DPP argued that the case can proceed in the absence of the accused persons. That the case proceeded until it is at the address stage.
“It is the accused person who deliberately escaped when he had all the facilities to conduct his defence. His defence conducted the trial, cross-examined the witnesses and the trial has constructively been conducted”, said Justice Dada.
She said rather than attend the accused person chooses to run away. She added that the accused is charged with 7 counts of sedition and publication of false news which are all misdemeanours.
Justice Dada Said the defence counsel argued that the trial will violate the fundamental rights of the accused person.
“Continuation of this trial in his absence is lawful. The question whether the trial can proceed in his absence is therefore in the positive”, ruled Justice Dada.
At this juncture, the DPP applied to adopt the prosecution’s written address. Also adopting her address, Lawyer Gaye told the court to deem the accused person’s address as properly filed, she further urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused person.
Justice Dada in her ruling held that the prosecution’s written address is adopted and the accused person’s written address is also deemed filed.
Subsequently, she adjourned the case till 20 July, 2016 at 3:30pm for judgment.