High Court strikes out the appeal of Private Modou Njie & Co

By Rohey Jadama

The Banjul High court presided over by Justice Simeon Ateh Abi yesterday, 10th June 2015, struck out the appeal of the four Modou Njiemilitary personnel who were convicted and sentenced to death and or life imprisonment by a court martial on 30 March 2015.

Justice Abi ruled that the appeal should have been filed at the Gambia Court of Appeal and not at the Banjul High Court.

The appellants namely Private Modou Njie, Lieutenant Colonel Sarjo Jarju, Lieutenant Amadou Sowe, Lieutenant Buba Sanneh, were appealing against their conviction by the court martial.

Striking out the appeal, Justice Abi said he relied on section 130(2) of the constitution of the Gambia and sections 128(1)(a) (B) of the Armed Forces Act. He said the Constitution states that “The court of appeal shall have the jurisdiction in appeals from court martial in a manner provided by law”, and the Armed Forces Act states “Any person found guilty by a court martial shall have the right to appeal to the court of appeal, in such form, manner and within such time, as may be prescribed in respect of either or both of the following: (a) The legality of any or all of the findings and (b) The legality of the whole or any part of the sentence.”

The four were not represented in court by lawyers and they are now expected to appeal at the Gambia Court of Appeal.

They were previously arraigned at the court martial on fourteen counts, ranging from treason, concealment of treason, offences related to mutiny, amongst others. Four counts i.e. counts 6, 7, 8, and 9 – were struck out and sentences were imposed on the remaining ten counts. They were handed multiple sentences for the counts on which they were found guilty. They were sentenced as follows:

Private Modou Njie: Sentenced to death on two counts and to life imprisonment on one count

Lieutenant Colonel Sarjo Jarju: Discharged on count 1 but sentenced on six counts, the highest being death sentence.

Lieutenant Amadou Sowe: Sentenced to life imprisonment on two counts.

Lieutenant Buba Sanneh: Sentenced on seven counts, the highest being death sentence.