By Rohey Jadama
The criminal appeal case involving Mrs. Fatoumatta Jawara, Chairperson of the Female Youth Wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and 10 others did not proceed yesterday 14 November 2016 before a panel of 3 judges headed by Justice O.A Adogoke due to the absence of the appellants.
The other appellants are Lamin Sonko, Modou Touray, Lasana Beyai, Lamin Marong, Alagie Fatty, Nogoi Njie, Fatou Camara, Kafu Bayo, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngum.
The appellants are challenging the decision of Justice Simeon Ateh Abi of the Mansakonko High Court who convicted and sentenced them to various fines and years of imprisonment on ‘unlawful assembly’, ’Riot’, ‘Incitement of Violence’, ‘Riotously interfering with vehicle’, ‘Holding a possession without a permit’, ‘disobeying an order to disperse’ and ‘conspiracy to commit felony’.
When the case was called Lawyers Amie Bensouda, Yassin Seneghore, and Combeh Gaye announced their representation for the appellants, while Hadi Saleh Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), A. Adeyime and B. Jeng appeared for the state.
Lawyer Bensouda informed the court that the appellants have not been brought to court and the prisons department was served with a hearing notice. She said she does not understand why they were not brought.
She further added that the case is a criminal appeal and their presence is required in order for them to know what is going on in their appeal. She told the court that counsels are not given access to the appellants at the prison. She applied for a short adjournment.
Responding to Lawyer Bensouda, the DPP said while they do not object to the application for an adjournment, they will like to take exception to her submission that they are not allowed access to the appellants in the absence of any evidence.
“I have just got a word from the prisons that they could not bring the appellants because the PIU officers who are responsible for escorting them did not show up for reasons not known to us. So we ask for a date in December,” said the DPP.
Responding to the DPP, Barrister Bensouda said the DPP cannot take exception at the submission of the counsel because she told the court what they are going through and that she was speaking from the bar and therefore cannot mislead the court. She further argued that the DPP instead of taking exceptions, he should just state that he is not aware and that he will do something in that regard.
“I do not need to bring evidence to prove the fact that access is denied because l am an officer of the court and will never mislead the court”, she submitted.
She objected to the application for an adjournment to December for a mere reason that the PIU did not show up is no reason for granting an adjournment to December.
Lawyer Bensouda continued “This is the court of appeal and the prison was served with the notice they are obliged to comply with the notice”.
She applied for a short and convenient near date for the case to proceed so that justice can be served.
In her ruling Justice Adogoke, said no cogent reason has been given to warrant an adjournment to December. The court also ordered for the appellants to be brought on the next adjourned date or the prisons furnish the court with reasons for the inability to do so.
The date to December is refused and the case was adjourned till 21 November, 2016.