By Yankuba Jallow
The criminal case involving 7 residents of Madina Nemasu was referred to the High Court because count 4 of the charge sheet attracts life imprisonment.
Magistrate I.O. Njie of the Brikama Magistrates Court said the court lacks jurisdiction to hear count four of the amended charge sheet which is rioters demolishing machinery contrary to section 76 of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01.
Counsel Jainaba Bah Sambou appeared for all the 7 accused persons whilst Superintendent M.D Mballow and Inspector K. Gibba appeared for the Inspector General of Police. The accused persons Lamin Darboe, Sainey Bayo, Alieu Touray, Ebrima Secka, Alieu Faal, Bakary Manneh and Alieu Faal were all present.
About one hundred or so sympathisers could be seen in the court premises but all of them including those in the congested courtroom waited patiently from 10 am till 1.40 pm when proceedings resumed. These included family members, relatives and loved ones.
The Defense counsel Sambou expressed her dissatisfaction with the manner in which the prosecution formulated their amendment but the Magistrate held that the prosecution can amend charges of trials at any stage. She also said she lacks the jurisdiction to hear the matter because of count four which attracts life in prison penalty and further referred the matter to the High Court because it has the jurisdiction to hear such matters. She ordered the accused persons to be taken back to where they were before coming to court (police custody) because she lacks jurisdiction to hear the case and also lacks jurisdiction to grant bail or order for them to be remanded. She also rejected an attempt by the prosecution to get the court to remand the accused in custody saying that she does not have the jurisdiction to do so.
The 7 accused persons on count one are said to commit malicious injuries to property contrary to Section 312(1) of the Criminal Code. They on or about the 23rd May, 2017 at Farato village damaged a caterpillar and a V-Boot Benz being properties of Babu Saho and Sarja Gibba respectively.
On count 2, they are alleged to obstruct police officers in the due execution of their duties contrary to Section 230 (b) of the Criminal Code. They are alleged on the same day of May to have wilfully assaulted Cpl Yaya James Baldeh and men.
Count 3 is incitement of violence contrary to Section 59B (b) of the Criminal Code. They are said to incite violence which led to the destruction of a caterpillar and a V-Boot Benz vehicle by burning them ablaze being property of Babu Saho and Sarja Gibba respectively.
Count 4 is rioters demolishing machinery contrary to Section 76 of the Criminal Code. They are alleged to riotously assemble together and unlawfully destroy a caterpillar and V-Boot Benz by burning them ablaze.
All the counts are found in cap 10:01 volume 3 laws of the Gambia.