By Rohey Jadama
Mr. Abdoulie Ceesay, the Managing Director of Taranga Fm radio station has again applied for bail at the Banjul High Court before Justice Simeon Ateh Abi.
Mr. Ceesay was indicted on 6 counts of ‘Sedition’ and 1 count of
‘Publication of false news’, charges he denied.
When the case was called, Hadi Sale Barkum, the Director of Public Prosecutions(DPP), appeared for the state, while lawyers Antouman Gaye, Combeh Gaye-Coker and Segga Gaye announced their representation for the accused person.
Moving her application, defence counsel Gaye-Coker told the court that they have filed an affidavit of reply to the affidavit of opposition.
At this stage, the DPP was served in court with the copy of the said affidavit.
She further told the court that they had filed a motion on the 17th January, 2016 which is supported by an affidavit deposed to by the accused person. She added that the DPP also filed an affidavit of opposition on the 28th January, 2016 deposed to by one Modou Jeng, a legal clerk.
Mrs. Gaye-Coker said paragraph 3 B of the affidavit of opposition is responding to 2,3,6,7,8 of the affidavit in support and the facts deposed therein with regards to the accused pleaded not guilty to the 7 counts and that the offences are all bailable.
She continued “paragraph 3 B makes no sense because it is not responding to paragraph 3, 6, 7 and 8 of the affidavit in support. It is our submission that paragraph 3B is incompetent and ought to be thrown out.”
She cited paragraph 3 C, adding that paragraph 8 C of the affidavit in opposition is denying paragraph 9 of the affidavit in support that the applicant was detained and tortured. “The deponent said that he has been informed by the DPP, which is based on personal knowledge,” submitted Lawyer Gaye-Coker.
Lawyer Gaye-Coker said 3 C is not in line with section 89 of the Evidence Act and that evidence ought to come from the NIA or the officers that arrested the accused, but it cannot come from the DPP.
She submitted that paragraph 3 F and G of the same affidavit of opposition runs contrary to section 89 of the Evidence Act because if there is a denial of the accused person’s health that ought to be substantiated by a medical doctor and not the DPP or his clerk sitting in his office.
Lawyer Gaye-Coker further argued that paragraph 3G of the affidavit is responding to paragraph 2,13,14,15 and 16 of the affidavit in support. She added that the affidavit in opposition is generally speculative and makes no answer in the above mentioned paragraphs, adding that she wished to apply for the court to strike them out.
“My lord we see from that the last bail ruling was 17th September, 2015, it is our argument that there has been lapses of time and is now four months and apart from the above mentioned reason, the applicant’s health has deteriorated so much that he has put on some medication,” submitted lawyer Gayer-Coker.
Mrs. Gaye Coker told the court that she has applied for a medical report from Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital since the 18th of January2016 and exhibited it in the affidavit of reply as exhibit OJ 3.
She further told the court that ill health is a very important factor and change in circumstance and this factor was never an issue in the previous bail application.
Defence counsel Gaye-Coker cited several authorities and laws to support her application and finally urged the court to grant bail to her client.
Replying to the defence counsel, DPP Barkum said change of circumstances has nothing to do with the trial and that the issue of ill health should not be taken into account.
“My lord there is a pending trial and granting bail to the applicant is a wrong signal at this stage when the prosecution has already closed their case and presumption of innocence is not reason to grant bail. There is a likelihood that the applicant will abscond if granted bail. These are major reasons why he should not be granted bail,” argued the DPP.
The DPP said the discretion of the court is what matters in bail application.
“I urged the court to discontinue the application and allow the matter to progress,” he concluded.
Replying on points of law, defence counsel Gaye-Coker said the bail application is a fresh application not an appeal as argued by the DPP. She also posited that the decision at the bail hearing is not the final verdict of the case.
“According to Section 99 of the Criminal procedure code, bail can be granted during trial and there is no distinction as to what stage bail can be granted. On the DPP’s argument that the applicant will abscond if granted bail, that is just a speculation”. Barrister Gaye-Coker added.
She argued that bail can be granted notwithstanding the seriousness of the alleged offences or the strength of the alleged evidence.
She finally urged the court to grant bail to the applicant.
At this stage, Justice Abi adjourned the case to 3rd February, 2016 at 3:30 pm for ruling on the bail application and mention of the “No case to answer”.