State Withdraws all 5 Charges against the Kartong 33

By Kebba Jeffang

The Brikama Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 granted the prosecution’s application for the withdrawal of all the five count charges against the 33 alleged protestors who are natives of the coastal town of Kartong, in Kombo South, West Coast Region.

None of the accused persons were in court while they were being discharged on the multiple charges of Conspiracy to commit Misdemeanor, Prohibition of Conduct, Riot, and Malicious Injuries.

The proceeding before the Principal Magistrate Hilary Abeke was held in a fully packed courtroom with relatives of the accused and other onlookers who were peeping through every window opening in order to see how the case unfolds.

When the case was called, Sub-Inspector Ebrima Sarr led the prosecution team assisted by Sgt. Jammeh whilst Lawyers Lamin J. Darboe and Dayoh M. Small Dago represented all the accused persons.

Filing his application, SI Sarr told the court that all the accused persons are remanded at Mile 2 prison and that they are yet to be in court. He, however, announced that he has an application to make without the presence of the accused persons.

SI Sarr said “we received an instruction from our command to withdraw all the five count charges against all the 33 accused persons. Based on that, we are applying under section 68 (1) of the Criminal Code Procedure (CPC) for the matter to be withdrawn against all of them.”

The defence counsel Darboe, in responding to the application, said he has no objection to the prosecution’s application. However, he suggested that to avoid a plain withdrawal, they are urging the court to use its discretion and apply the proviso of section 68 of the CPC.

“In addition, for the improvement of the administration of justice, I went to Mile 2 on Friday to see my clients but i was denied access. I was able to see them yesterday (Monday) but able to see just 32 instead of 33. I learnt that the other one was kept at Brikama police station. I will also want to inform you (court) that my clients were kept in solitary confinement and not remanded. And again this is just to improve the administration of justice. They were not remanded which is in contravention of the order of the court,” said Lawyer J. Darboe.

In delivering his ruling, magistrate Abeke granted the prosecution’s application of withdrawal. “This case is hereby withdrawn by the orders of the court. All the accused persons by the withdrawal order are hereby discharged,” ordered the trial magistrate.

Magistrate Abeke further ruled that since no further reason was given, he will not touch the area of proviso of section 68 of CPC as applied by the defence counsel. Instead, he said, he will only restrict himself to the said section. With regards to the counsel’s complaint of manner of detention meted on his clients at Mile 2, the magistrate said “this court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the case is already withdrawn.”

Meanwhile, readers could recall that 33 young people, including a woman, were arraigned at the Brikama Magistrate’s Court on 24th November, 2015 where they were denied bail and remanded at Mile 2 central prison. The accused persons pleaded not guilty.

The five charges that were withdrawn are as follows:

The charges are Conspiracy to commit Misdemeanor, Prohibition of Conduct, Riot, and Malicious Injuries.

Count one: “Conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, contrary to section 269 of the criminal code cap. 10:01, vol. III, revised Laws of the Gambia 2009. It alleges that Sadibou Bojang, Victor  Colley, Ebrima Ceesay, Abdou B.M Ceesay, Abdoukarim Sabally, Sankung Jawo, Sheikh Janneh, Saikou E. Camara, Ansumana Manneh, Yaya Touray, Ambruss Bass, Amadou Ceesay, Alieu Touray, Lamin K. Touray, David Manneh, Emil Demba, Omar Bojang, Morikebba  Saidy, Omar Manneh, Abdoulie Jarju, Yama Jarju,  Yaya Jabang  , Kankang Jarju, Pa Manneh, Buba Manneh, Bubacarr Manneh, Omar Manneh, Modou Manneh, Ebrima  Manneh,  Lamin Ceesay, Baba  Ceesay, Yusupha Manneh, Habib  Manneh and Muhamed L. Manneh, for on the 22nd day of November  2015, at Kartong sand mining site, Kombo South, West Coast Region, in the Republic of the Gambia, conspired  among themselves to commit misdemeanor and thereby committed an offence.

Count two: ‘Prohibition of Conduct’, it alleges that the 33 people at Kartong sand mining site, Kombo South, West Coast Region, in the Republic of the Gambia, conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace.

Count three: ‘Riot’ contrary to section 69 of the criminal code cap 10:01 Vol. states that on the 22nd day of November 2015 at Katong village at the sand mining site, at the same Village, they assembled and conducted  themselves   in  a manner  that  caused reasonable  fear  to  theirneighbours which  is likely to  cause a breach of the peace.

Count four: ‘Malicious injuries’ contrary to section 312 (1) of the criminal code cap 10:01 Vol. 111 Revised laws of the Gambia 2009. The 33 people are alleged to have riotously assembled unlawfully and with force to prevent, hinder and obstruct the following vehicles BJL 2819 K, BJL 1878 K, BJL 1451 Land BJL 5935 K, from loading sand at the sand mining site I area.

Count five: ‘Riotously Interfering with Vehicle/Vessel’ contrary to section 78 of the Criminal Code cap 10:01 VOL 111 Revised laws of the Gambia, on the same date and settlement.  The 33 are alleged to have riotously assembled and conducted themselves with force to prevent or obstruct the loading of vehicles.