By Mamadou Dem
A lower court in Banjul presided over by Principal Magistrate Momodou M.S. Jallow. on Tuesday. 4th August, ordered one Bai Joof to be remanded in Prison custody pending his appearance t at the High Court.
However, Mr. Joof did not take his plea on the single count charge of ‘Manslaughter’, contrary to section 186 of the Criminal Code, as the lower court lacks the jurisdiction to try the case. Consequently, the matter was transferred to the high court for trial.
Prosecutors have alleged that the said accused on or about the 1st of June, 2015 at Farafenni Village, North Bank Region of the Republic of The Gambia and diverse places, fought with one Mustapha Sey who was admitted and later died on the 14th of June 2015 at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and thereby committed an offence.
Prior to remanding the accused in custody and the subsequent transfer of the matter, Police Prosecutor Almameh Manga applied for the matter to be transferred to the proper jurisdiction pursuant to section 62 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He also craved the indulgence of the court to remand the accused pending his appearance before the high court.
“You will not take your plea at the moment, I will transfer this matter to the high court as applied by the prosecution,” said the trial magistrate.
Applying for bail on behalf of his client, senior counsel Edward A. Gomez submitted that the charge preferred against his client is a “Very Serious” charge which may carry a sentence of life imprisonment. He referred the court to chapter 4 of the 1997 Constitution regarding protections of fundamental rights and freedoms.
According to counsel Gomez, Section 17 (1) provides that those rights enshrined in the Constitution shall be enforceable by the courts in accordance with the constitution. “Therefore those fundamental rights and freedom are sacrosanct and invariable and not subject to negotiation,” he said.
The defence further referred the court to section 24 sub section (3) (C) of the constitution which he said guarantees adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence.
“In this regard, I humbly apply to this court for an order for the prosecution to provide the defence with a copy of the charge sheet, cautionary and voluntary statements of the accused person and copies of witness statements relevant to this case,” submitted counsel.
In his ruling, the trial magistrate said: “I shall not allow the prosecution to reply on the defence counsel’s submission. The court will not consider the bail of the accused therefore the accused person is hereby remanded in prison custody pending his arraignment at the high court.”