Accused Persons Plead not Guilty
By Yankuba Jallow & Mariama Marong
Justice Francis Apangabuno Achibonga of the Banjul High Court has granted bail to eight (8) leaders of the 3 Years Jotna Movement after they pleaded not guilty to three charges levelled against them by the State.
The accused persons were Fanta Mballow, Ebrima Kitim Jarju, Sheriffo Sonko, Haji Suwaneh, Abdou Njie (Chairman of 3 Years Jotna), Karim Touray, Yankuba Darboe (a legal practitioner), Muctar Ceesay and Bakary Camara alias Camaraba. They were charged with Unlawful Assembly, Riotous demolishing of Buildings and Rioting after Proclamation contrary to sections 69, 76 and 74 of the Criminal Code of the Gambia.
Their plea on all the three counts were either “not guilty” or “I disagree with the charge”.
Count one which is unlawful assembly attracts one year imprisonment on conviction, count two which is riotous demolishing of buildings attracts seven years imprisonment and count three attracts five year imprisonment on conviction.
These people were arrested on the 26th January 2020 following a peaceful protest which turned violent. The protesters were demanding for President Adama Barrow to honour his campaign promise to step down after serving only for three years.
On the charge of unlawful assembly, the accused persons are alleged to have jointly and unlawfully taken part in an unlawful assembly on the 26th January 2020.
On the second charge, rioters demolishing buildings, the accused persons are alleged to have assembled together and unlawfully destroyed the Gambia Technical Training Institute students’ waiting shed by setting it on fire.
On the third and final charge, rioting after proclamation, the accused persons are alleged to have continued with their protest by disregarding the proclamation made during the protest.
Lawyer Lamin S. Camara on behalf of the accused persons applied for bail, saying the charges proffered against the accused persons are bailable offences. He relied on section 99 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code in making the application for bail. He informed the court that the accused persons won’t jump bail, if granted. He stated that the accused persons were first charged and tried on the 29th January 2020 and have always been coming to court. He added that the accused persons have been placed on bail five weeks ago following the State’s application for a ‘nolle’.
He submitted that the accused persons won’t interfere with the witnesses and also, they won’t interfere with the investigations.
State Lawyer Abdul Maita Yusuf said they do not have any objections to the application for bail as he left the court to exercise its discretion.
The court placed them on bail with a bond of one hundred thousand (D100,000) each. It furthered ordered them to each produce two Gambian sureties ho must swear to an affidavit of means.
The case was adjourned to the 10th and 11th March 2021 at 2 pm for hearing.