The trial of 25 April 14 arrestees – Fatoumata Jawara, Nogoi Njie and others – has faced another setback. The first proceeding since its transfer from the high court in Banjul to the high court in Mansakonko was scheduled to take place yesterday but the case did not proceed because the accused were not in court. Transferring a case has its consequences. It cost money and time to transport the accused and state counsels to Mansakonko each time there is a proceeding. The defence will also become more expensive as the lawyers will have to take their time and transportation into consideration.
This was evident after the first appearance. During the trial in Banjul the prosecution and defence were represented by teams of lawyers while at Mansakonko only two state counsels and one defence lawyer were present.
It is apparent that the trial is going to take longer and more costly in the midst of heightened tension. We are in an election year and at this moment the leadership of the UDP is on trial. The executive needs to consider a political solution and discontinue the cases which will give credence to the electoral process. It needs to follow the example of Senegal where the ruling party has subjected itself to the scrutiny of the opposition and civil society in a dialogue.