By Rohey Jadama
Justice O. Otaba of the Special Criminal Division of the Banjul High Court will deliver ruling today 6 December, 2016 on the bail application of 14 United Democratic Party supporters.
The accused persons are Bakary Jammeh, Kaddy Samateh, a lactating mother of a five months baby, Lele Bojang, Alkali Sanneh, Yaya Fatty, Muhammed Singhateh, Kemo Touray, Bakary Marong, Buba Mass, Alagie Saidykhan, Tombong Njie, Modou Sarr, Sheriff Suma, and Lamin Dampha.
They are being tried on seven counts of ‘Conspiracy to commit felony’, ’Unlawful Assembly’, ‘Riot’, ‘Incitement of violence’, ‘Interfering with a vehicle’, ‘Holding a possession without a permit’, and disobeying an order to disperse, to which they all pleaded not guilty to.
Lawyers Amie Bensouda, Hawa Sisay-Sabally, Rachel Y. Mendy, Yassin Seneghore, Combeh Gaye and Anna Njie announced their representation for the accused persons while B. Jaiteh appeared for the state.
At this juncture State Counsel Jaiteh told the court that their witness is on his way coming and he applied for the matter be stood down.
However, Lawyer Bensouda, the lead Attorney for the defendants told the court while that they await the arrival of the witness, she would like to make an oral bail application for the accused persons.
She said the accused persons are alleged to be members of the United Democratic Party (UDP). At this point, she drew the court’s attention to the order made by the Gambia Court of Appeal in the consolidated appeal case of Ousainou Darboe and 18 others wherein the said appellants were granted bail.
She continued “The Gambia Court of Appeal granted bail to the appellants on similar circumstances”.
At this juncture lawyer Bensouda gave the copy of the said ruling to the court’s clerk. She submitted that the Gambia Court of Appeal was persuaded by their submission.
She said the UDP in which these accused persons are part of are in the process of forming their government.
“Having being elected as part of the coalition UDP is a crucial part of the transition to the new government to be sworn in”, she said.
She submitted that the reasons relied upon by the court in refusing bail earlier on has been fundamentally affected by the change of circumstance.
“If they were a threat to National security at that time, now that they have been successful and victorious, it is their continued detention that posed a threat to peace and instability. They were the opposition when the ruling was given but they are now the government”, she said.
In concluding she drew the court’s attention to the preamble of the constitution paragraph 4 which states that power emanates from the sovereign will of the people.
She continued “The people have spoken, they have preference for the coalition to govern this country and it is my submission that all the courts including this court must respect that decision. My lord will see that the change in circumstance will leave this court with no choice than to release them unconditionally to enable them participate in the transition process”, submitted Barrister Bensouda.
State counsel B. Jaiteh said if the court is minded to grant the application, he would humbly apply for the court to do so on terms that will secure the attendance of the accused applicants to stand trial.
The case continues today at 4pm for a ruling on the said application.