By Rohey Jadama
Barrister Combeh Gaye-Coker, defence counsel for Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the Manager of Taranga FM, yesterday,13 August, 2015 has urged the Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Simeon Ateh Abi to exercise its discretion judiciously and judicially and grant his client bail,.
The state was represented by S.H. Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), A. Jaiteh and B. Jaiteh, while the applicant was represented by Lawyer Combeh Gaye-Coker.
Defence counsel Gaye-Coker told the court that the matter before the court is an application for bail following the order of Magistrate M.S. Jallow of the Banjul Magistrate Court on the 5th August wherein the applicant was denied bail and was remanded in prison custody. She said the application was filed on the 6th of August 2015 and that the summons is supported by an affidavit deposed to by the applicant.
Barrister Gaye-Coker added that the prosecution opposed the bail of the applicant and had filed an affidavit to that effect. She told the court that sections 19 and 24, sub section (3)(a) of the 1997 Constitution as well as section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) all support the applicant’s right to bail.
“This offence is bailable and there should be strong presumption in favour of granting bail, unless there is a good reason and good grounds supported by law to deny bail. Section 19 and section 24(3)(a) of the Constitution protects the applicant’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and in this circumstance the applicant has not pleaded guilty,” submitted Lawyer Gaye-Coker.
The defence counsel told the high court that Magistrate Jallow denied her client bail on the grounds that the investigation of the prosecution is not yet completed, adding that the fundamental right of the accused is not infringed in any way.
“Me lord, I submit that that statement is not supported by facts, circumstances of the case, nor is it supported by law. From the facts presented, we submit that there is sufficient and cogent reasons why this court should exercise its discretion in favour of the applicant,” she said.
However, the DPP interjected and told the court that the defence counsel is trying to castigate the ruling of the magistrate.
Continuing her submission, Lawyer Gaye-Coker told the court that the applicant has been in the custody of the state since 2 July, 2015, and released on the 13 of July. She said the applicant was rearrested on the 17th of July and kept in the custody of the NIA until 4 August when he was arraigned at the Banjul Magistrate Court and that the fact of the arrest is not denied by the respondent.
Lawyer Gaye-Coker said on the 5th of August the applicant was denied bail and that there is no reason before the court for the applicant to continue to be remanded in custody. She continued, “I submit that there is no on-going investigation and that the fact that the prosecution said they have strong evidence against the accused is irrelevant at this stage because what is before this court is a bail application and not the case.”
She said the applicant does not have a history of criminality and that he has no intention to interfere with witnesses and investigations, if any. She added that the applicant has his family in the Gambia and has no intention to flee and has sureties. She said the main reason of his bail is to ensure that he is before the court for trial. She referred the court to the case of Momodou Sabally vs the state to support his submission.
“Finally, I urge the court to exercise its discretion judiciously and judicially and grant bail to the applicant, but not to make the bail conditions so onerous ,“ submitted Barrister Gaye-Coker.
Replying to the submissions of the defence counsel, DPP Barkun said they had filled an affidavit opposing the bail. He said the application of the defence counsel is misguided. He said bail application is a matter to be decided by the discretion of the court and is to be done judiciously and judicially.
DPP Barkun said there is nothing special or exceptional to grant the applicant bail. He continued “It is important to note that bail application is not the enforcement of fundamental right of the accused.”
He added “Sedition is next to treason, the more serious the crime, the more likely for the accused jumping bail.”
The DPP cited numerous authorities to support his argument.
At this juncture, Counsel Gaye-Coker applied for an adjournment to enable her to get the authorities cited by DPP and reply on points of law. There was no objection from the DPP and the application was thus granted.
The case will resume on Monday, 17th August, 2015 at 12 noon the applicant’s counsel to reply on points of law to the DPP’s submission opposing bail.