By Louise Jobe
The Police have pressed four criminal charges against twenty-two youths from Sanyang following last week’s violent protest which led to the burning of a police station and a fishmeal factory.
The accused persons appeared before Principal Magistrate Isatou Darboe of the Brikama Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 23th March 2021.
Police Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh, Superintendent Almameh S. Manga, Superintendent M. Jarju and Superintendent M. Camara appeared for the Inspector General of Police ( IGP ) whille the Defence team was headed by Lawyer Lamin S. Camara.
The four counts were read to the accused persons and interpreted in the Mandinka Language. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The accused persons were Lamin Tijan Jabang, Abdou Kunta Fofana, Sainey Badjie, Arfang Sanneh, Modou Lamin Marong, Lamin Manneh, Suwaibou Bojang Mbye Darboe, Mbye Sanyang, Ousman Dumbuya, Abdoulie Bayo, Sulayman Sanyang, Bubacarr Darboe, Yerro Jallow, Ebrima Manneh, amadou Joof, Lamin Saidy, Samsidy Sanneh, Bakary Kanteh, Yaya Gaye, Ba Saikou Sanyang and Ebrima Bojang.
On count one, they were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to section 368 of the Criminal Code. According to particulars of the offence, the 22 accused persons, on or about 15th day of March 2021, at Sanyang Village, Kombo South in West Coast Region conspired among themselves to commit a felony to wit arson.
On the second count, they were all charged with arson contrary to section 305(a) of the Criminal Code. The particulars of offence alleged that the 22 accused persons, on or about the 15th day of March 2021 at Sanyang Village, Kombo South District West Coast Region, willfully and unlawfully set fire on the Sanyang Police Station.
On count three, the 22 were charged with Unlawful Assembly contrary to section 70 of the Criminal Code. According to the particulars of the offence, the accused persons on or about 15th day of March 2021 at Sanyang village Kombo South District West Coast Region jointly took part in an unlawful assembly thereby committed an offence.
On count four which is the final count, the 22 accused persons were charged with rioters demolishing structures contrary to section 76 of the Criminal Code. According to particulars of the offence, the 22 accused persons, on or about the 15th day of March 2021, at Sanyang village, Kombo South District in West Coast Region riotously assembled together and unlawfully destroyed the Sanyang Police Station thereby committed an Offence
After taking their plea, Superintendent A. S. Manga applied for the case to be transferred to the Special Criminal Division of the High Banjul High Court relying on section 62 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and Legal Notice Number 3 of 2009. Prosecutor Manga also relied on section 208 of the CPC to have accused persons remanded in prison pending their arraignment before the High Court.
Lawyer Camara for the Defence objected to the prosecution’s application saying the Court has the jurisdiction to try the matter. He submitted that the establishment of the Special Criminal Division of the High Court does not in any way oust the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the case as he relied on section 5 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
He said the Legal Notice does not take away the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the case.
He said bail is at the discretion of the Court, adding bail was granted to charges on arson and manslaughter by the Supreme Court.
“It is therefore wrong to say that bail cannot be granted for an offence that attracted life imprisonment,” Camara said.
He submitted that the accused persons are not at risk to abscond and are ready to defend their case.
Sulayman Sanyang complained of serious pain in his body and requested medical attention.
Sulayman Sanyang alleged that he was beaten seriously by the police while his hands were put on handcuff.
Principal Magistrate Isatou Darboe ordered that Sanyang should be provided with medical attention. However, she adjourned the case to Wednesday, 24th March 2021 for ruling.