Principal Magistrate Omar Cham of the Brikama Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 4, 2014, overruled the application made by lead counsel, Mr. Antouman Gaye, a forth night ago who argued that the Supreme court has the original jurisdiction for the interpretation of laws and therefore applied to the court to refer the case to the Supreme court.
The case was adjourned for the ruling to determine whether the application would be granted or not. However, Magistrate Mr. Omar Cham said his court has the power to hear the case and asked for the continuation of the trial at the magistrate level.
The case which involves Sheikh Muhideen Hydara and BuyehTouray, the Caliph General and “Alkalo” of Darsilameh Sangajor respectively continued with another application from the defence.
Lawyer Mboge representing Sheikh Muhideen and Alkalo Touray applied for an adjournment. He said he is led in this case by his senior learned counsel Antouman Gaye who he said was absent. He informed the court that lawyer Gaye asked him to apply for adjournment because he needs to further address the court on the application they’ve made earlier and that his colleague was before the High court for another case.
“The main reason for this application is that my learned senior intends to further address the court on the application pending the ruling by virtue of section 24 (3c) of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia; that the accused persons are to be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence. This is the first application for adjournment made by the defence and that it will be in the interest of justice, fair hearing and trial which are fundamental rights that are very pertinent for the accused persons,” asserted Lawyer Mboge.
Lawyer Mboge intimated that it is also a constitutional right for the accused persons to be represented by legal practitioner(s) of their choice.
Chief Inspector Touray in responding to defence’s application for adjournment said he is not objecting to the adjournment of the matter.
However, Magistrate Cham said the defence counsel has stated that r granting adjournment is the discretion of the court . He said the counsel also said ruling on the first application will prejudice the defence’s plan to make further address. Magistrate Cham therefore ruled that adjournment should not precede the ruling on the application to stay off proceedings pending the referral of the case to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
He proceeded to make his ruling by intimating that he agreed that the Supreme Court is the proper jurisdiction for the purpose of interpretation.
However, he said this happens when the charge is ambiguous or in case of a disagreement between the prosecution and the defence. He added that in his view, this case is not ambiguous.
He ruled : “This court has the power to hear this case because the charges are properly laid and therefore the court has the power to continue.”
The matter was then adjourned to Thursday, 18th September, 2014 at 12pm for continuation of hearing.
It could be recalled that the duo was charged with two counts of ‘disobedience to lawful order’ and ‘Conspiracy to commit felony’. Both of them pleaded not guilty.
The accused persons were detained for three nights at Bwiam and Yundum police stations , after observing Eid-Ul Fitr prayer in Darsilameh Sangajor, Foni Kansala, West Coast Region, on a day different from what was announced by the Supreme Islamic Counsel. They were later charged and brought for trial at the Brikama Magistrate’s Court.