By Rohey Jadama
The Gambia court of appeal yesterday unanimously granted the December 30 attacker’s application to amend their notice of appeal.
Yesterday’s proceeding was presided over by a three member panel of Judges led by Justice O.A Adogoke, Sallah-Wadda and Edrissa Fafa M’bai.
When the case was called B.S Touray appeared for the 1st appellant, M. Alfred appeared for the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th appellant while L.S Camara appeared for the 4th appellant. DPP S.H Barkun appeared for the respondent alongside Deputy DPP M.B Abubacarr and A. Yakubu.
The appellants, namely, Private Modou Njie, Lieutenant Colonel Sarjo Jarju, Lieutenant Amadou Sowe, Lieutenant Buba Sanneh, were appealing against their conviction by the court-martial.
The state counsels were opposed to the amending of the notice of appeal and the court of appeal was to rule on that yesterday. Delivering his ruling Justice M’bai said the appellants filed a 21 paragraph affidavit in support of their motion and the state filed a 7 paragraph affidavit in opposition.
The position of the respondent state is that the notice of appeal before the court is jointly signed by the appellants when the notice of appeal should be signed by the appellants individually. He said the respondent argued that the deponent said he is given information but did not state specifically which counsel gave it to him and the place and time.
Justice M’bai stated that the issue before the court for determination is whether the application for amendment is competent and whether the court can grant amendment. He said it is a fact that the appellants have signed the affidavit. He maintained that it is incorrect for the respondent to say that the appellants have signed the notice of appeal jointly. He therefore held that the application for amendment is competent.
On the issue of whether the court can grant the application for amendment, Justice M’Bai said the respondent states that the application for amendment will be prejudiced but did not show how. He said the errors on the notice of appeal are errors of the counsel and not the appellants.
He said in view of the fact that the respondent did not show how amending the notice of appeal will be prejudiced, the application to amend the notice of appeal filed by the appellant is granted.
The panel unanimously agreed to the ruling. Justice O.A Adogoke then said that the case file will therefore be sent to the registry of the high court.
It would be recalled that the four appellants together with two other convicts faced up to 14 charges, ranging from treason to security offences.
The five-member court martial comprising a president and four other members, who were senior officers from GAF, held proceedings from 5 February to 30 March 2015 at the Officers’ Training Centre, Fajara Barracks outside the glare of the media.
Lieutenant Colonel Sarjo Jarju was discharged on one count but sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on one count, 20 years imprisonment on one count, life imprisonment on 3 counts and to death on one count.
Captain Amadou Sowe was sentenced to life imprisonment on two counts.
Lieutenant Buba Sanneh was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on one count, 20 years imprisonment on one count, life imprisonment on 4 counts and to death on one count.
Private Njie Modou received a life imprisonment on one count and death on two counts.