By Rohey Jadama
The ‘Sedition and Publication of False News’ trial involving Mr. Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the Manager of Taranga FM radio, did not proceed yesterday, 31 August, before Justice Mohammed Dan Azumi Balarabe of the Banjul High Court as the defence was lately served with documents needed for its defence in court.
When the case was called, Lawyer Combeh Gaye-Coker, counsel for the accused person, drew the attention of the court to the fact that she was not served with the documents such as the witness statements and exhibits which the prosecution wishes to rely on to prove its case.
“It is mandatory that these materials be given in advance to enable the accused to prepare for his defence and I refer the court to section 24 subsection(3) of the constitution and section 175 (c) and (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code,” she continued.
The counsel argued that providing the said documents to the defence will not prejudice the case of the prosecution. She finally urged the court to order the prosecution to provide her with the documents to enable them prepare for their defence.
Replying to the submission of the defence counsel, S.H Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecutions, argued that serving counsel with the witness statements and exhibits is complementing and not mandatory.
DPP Barkun added that they had done what the law required them to do by listing the witnesses and exhibits they intend to call and used in support of their case and further summarised the evidence of the witnesses. This, he continued, is in line with section 175 (c)) paragraph a or b of the CPC.
He said with regards to section 24 of the constitution, as cited by the defence counsel, the time and facility needed by the accused is only known to him when he mentions them.
The DPP further argued that he had expected for the defence counsel to make her application requesting the said documents and not to wait until the day of the hearing to apply for it. He said they have their witness in court and finally urged the court to proceed with the hearing.
At this juncture, the DPP was seen handing over some documents to the defence lawyer.
However, the defence lawyer told the court that she is not being served with exhibit 6 which is the print out of the sms between the accused and PW2. She added that she needed time to go through the documents that the prosecution has served her.
In his ruling, the trial judge ordered the DPP to endeavour to serve the defence counsel with the remaining documents before the next adjourned date.
The matter was adjourned to Thursday, 3rd September, 2015 for hearing.