By Yankuba Jallow
The Kanifing Magistrates Court has on Wednesday the 10th April 2019 discharged Yankuba Touray and Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay who were jointly charged with Conspiracy to Commit Felony and interfering with information or witness.
The accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the charges as alleged.
In making the application for the withdrawal of the charges, Counsel A.N. Yusuf for the State said the prosecution is making an application for the accused persons to be discharged relying on section 68 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Lawyer Lamin S. Camara Counsel for Yankuba Touray told the court that the defense would not object to the application but they want the accused persons to be acquitted instead of discharging them. He implored the court to exercise its discretion under section 68 of the CPC to acquit the accused persons. Lawyer Camara stressed that under the circumstances, it won’t be in the interest of justice for the accused persons to be discharged without being acquitted. He added that the first prosecution witness (PW1) has given testimony extensively and therefore, it would be prudent for the court to acquit them. He emphasized that PW1 Alagie Kanyi has given evidence on two adjourned dates and thereafter, the prosecution sought for adjournment on two adjourned dates.
“They have not advanced any reasons for their withdrawal. It would not be in the interest of justice to subject them (the accused persons) to the risk of prosecution before another court on the same charges; that would be a travesty of justice,” Camara told the Court.
He urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused persons.
“Under the circumstance, I urge this honourable court to acquit the defendants (accused persons) in this matter. I respectfully enjoin your worship to exercise your discretion and acquit the defendants,” Lawyer Camara concluded.
Lawyer A. Sisoho for Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay told the court that the prosecution is withdrawing the charges and instituting another case before the High Court.
“Charges have been levied against the accused persons before Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay of the Banjul High Court. This court should not allow abuse of process. Justice Saho-Ceesay told us on Monday that she has 183 cases before her. Adjournments before is usually a month and in a matter of weeks, the courts would be going on vacation,” the lawyer said.
He said the application sought by the prosecution was not made in the interest of justice and the interest of the country at large. He beseeched the court to disallow the application by the prosecution to discharge the accused person, adding the court should instead acquit them.
Counsel A.N. Yusuf on his part said the objection lacks merit, adding that section 68 of the CPC is very clear. He said the defence has no idea as to the number of witnesses the prosecution has in the pipeline. He said it won’t be in the interest of justice to allow the objection.
In her ruling, the trial Magistrate Isatou Janneh-Njie overruled the objection adding that it would be premature and unjust for the Court to exercise its discretion to acquit the accused persons under the circumstance. She said the prosecution has called only one witness who is yet to complete his testimony.