“We have been denied access to our clients” Says Lawyer Mendy in UDP 15 trial

By Rohey Jadama
Barrister Rachel Y Mendy, the lead defence   Counsel  in the criminal
trial involving 14 UDP militants has yesterday 21 September,2016 told
the Banjul High that they have been denied access to their clientswho are being remanded at mile two central prison.
Lawyer Mendy made this remark before Justice O. Otaba of the Special
criminal Division of the Banjul High Court. She further argued that if
family members are allowed access to the accused persons, they should
also be allowed access to their lawyers. She said they were kept
waiting for 3 hours and only to be told that the person responsible is
not around.
The accused persons namely   Bakary Jammeh, Kaddy Samateh, a mother of a four months old baby, Lele Bojang , Alkali Sanneh, Yaya Fatty, Solo
Kurumah (Deceased) , Muhmmed Singhateh, Kemo Touray, Bakary Marong, Buba Mass, Alagie Saidykhan, Tombong Njie, Modou Sarr, Sheriff Suma and Lamin Dampha.
They  are being tried on seven counts of ‘Conspiracy to commit
Felony’, ‘Unlawful Assembly’,’ Riot’, ‘Incitement of Violence’,
‘interfering with vehicle’, ‘Holding a possession without a permit’
and ‘Disobeying order to disperse’, to which they all  pleaded not
guilty to.
When the case was called Lawyer B. Jaiteh appeared for the state,
while Lawyers Rachel Y Mendy, Yassin Seneghore, and Aji Combeh Gaye
announced their representation for all the accused persons.
“My lord from the records all the accused persons are present except
the 6th accused person Solo Kurumah and maybe the state can explain
why”, said defence counsel Mendy.
Responding to Lawyer Mendy , state counse Jaiteh told the court that
he is reliably informed by the prison authorities that the 6th accused
passed away.  At this juncture, Sub-Inspector Kalipha Bojang , a
prison officer told the court that the accused person passed away last
“We’ve been just informed that they carried out an autopsy report, if
counsel can be provided with a copy of the  autopsy report
and  as well as the dead certificate”, said Barrister Mendy.
At this juncture, Justice Otaba told Sub-Inspector Bojang to bring the
autopsy report and the dead certificate   at the next adjourned date.
Sub-Inspector Bojang told the court that he has the original at his
office but that he has served state counsel Jaiteh with the photocopy
of the said report.
However, Lawyer Mendy argued that   the original should be in the
custody of the court not the photocopy.
At this stage Lawyer Jaiteh applied to withdraw the exparte motion
dated 23 August, 2016. Without any objection from the defence team, the
said motion was accordingly struck out by the court.
“My Lord there is a pending application   before the court which is
an application for bail. We were served with an affidavit of
opposition and we wish to reply to it.  Apart from applying to move
the bail application orally, we wish to file an affidavit of reply”,
submitted Barrister Mendy.
Delivering his ruling Justice Otaba, ordered both parties to file
written briefs. He said it is the constitutional right of the accused
persons to have access to their lawyers.  He ordered the Director
General of the Prisons to help in facilitating the accused persons to
access their lawyers.
After parties were given 3 days each to file their written briefs, the
case was subsequently adjourned to 5 October, 2016 at 12noon for
adoption of briefs.