By Mamadou Dem
Gambia’s Highest Court (Supreme Court) will on Wednesday 12th of November, 2014 determine whether to review or not to review the death sentence imposed on the applicants (Lang Tombong and others) by both the High Court and Appeal Court of The Gambia which was also upheld by the Supreme Court on the 19th of October,2013.
Former Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba and six other death row convicts are challenging before a panel of seven judges headed by the Chief justice of The Gambia, Justice Eli Nawaz Chowhan, for the Supreme Court to review their conviction and sentence to death by the High Court upheld by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of The Gambia.
The six other applicants are Brigadier General Omar Bun Badjie, Lt. Colonel Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, former Deputy Inspector General of, Police Modou Gaye, former diplomat Gibril Ngorr Secka and Abdoulie Joof, a businessman.
Replying on the arguments raised by the defence, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hadi Saleh Barkun informed the court that the applicants were charged under Section 35 (1) a , d and g of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Gambia and not under Section 35 (1) f as he earlier mentioned. He said even though the applicants weren’t charged under Section 35 (1) f, the death penalty handed over on them was appropriate.
According to the DPP, even though the applicants were charged under section 35 a, d, and g respectively, what the trial court applied on the applicants was from the provision of Section 35 (1) f. He referred the court to Section 18 Sub Section 2 of the 1997 Constitution which he said talks about violence.
“There is no way a legitimate government can be overthrown without the use of violence,” said the DPP. He added that before a country is invaded by Armed Forces or any other Force, violence must be involved.
Talking on Convention and International Law, the Chief-Prosecutor submitted that Section 54 Sub section (8) of the Supreme Court Rules is very clear that the court can only review its Judgment on exceptional circumstances and opined that none of the circumstances cited by the defence prohibits death penalty. “Even if the laws cited by the defence are domesticated, they are not in any way contradictory or inconsistent with the laws of The Gambia,” he opined.
According to the DPP, Section 209 C and D and Section 211 of the 1997 Constitution are very clear on International Law; adding that the essence of international law is to guide but they cannot in any way take precedence of the domestic laws.
DPP finally argued that the defence did not furnish the court with sufficient reasons as to why the court should review its decision on the 19th of October, 2013.
Countering DPP’s submission, counsel for the applicants Sheriff Tambadou said, “Whenever violence arise there is presumption of life.”
At that juncture, the case was adjourned to 12th of this month for ruling.