By Yankuba Jallow
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court has denied granting bail to the eight NIA officials facing charge for which the penalty is life imprisonment.
The accused persons are Quasy Mendy, Leon Gomez, Lamin Bojang, Malafi Jarju, Bakary Jammeh, Ansumana Manga, Mamudou Badjie and Yankuba Colley. The eight intelligence officers are charged with accessory, contrary to Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
According to the particulars of offence, the accused persons on or about the 15th of April 2016 at the Tanji Facility of the National Intelligence Agency, took part in the secret burial of the body of one Solo Sandeng, knowing that the said Solo Sandeng was unlawfully killed, with intent to conceal felony.
The defence lawyer SK Jobe made an application for the accused persons to be granted bail since the State hasn’t shown any interest in the case because it has not filed any process before the High Court whilst the accused persons are under detention. He argued that the rights of the accused persons are infringed upon because the constitutional limit of 72 hours has not been respected by the State and therefore, the accused persons deserve to be bailed.
When the case was called before Justice E. Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court, Sheriff Kumba Jobe appeared for the applicants (accused persons) whilst Abdourahman Bah represented the State (Respondent).
Justice Jaiteh in his ruling held that the application for bail by the accused persons cannot be granted by the Court relying on section 99 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code as it has been overtaken by events since the trial has already commenced. The judge said that section oust the power of the High Court to grant bail to offences that are punishable for life imprisonment.
The court in its holding, held that the presumption of innocence is not absolute relying on the case of Shedra v DPP that it has a limit. The Court held that the interest of the accused persons must be weighed in accordance with section 99(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code which states that offences punishable to life imprisonment are non bailable offences. The bail application was rejected by the court.