By Yankuba Jallow
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Abdul Maita Yusuf, has requested for the court to give them more time to enable them file an indictment against the eight alleged coup plotters
The accused persons in this case are Sanna Fadera (alleged ring leader), Gibril Darboe, Ebrima Sano, Ebrima Baldeh, Omar Colley, Baboucar Njie, Barra Touray and Lamin Jadama (at large). They were charged with treason and conspiracy at the magistrate’s court in Banjul but the case was transferred to the high court for lack of powers to hear treason charges. They appeared before Justice Basiru V.P. Mahoney, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting as a High Court Judge on Wednesday for the first time, but are not yet charged at the high court.
Abdul Maita Yusuf (AM Yusuf) who appeared for the State informed the Court that they are yet to file a bill of indictment with respect to the case. He stated that the case was transferred from the magistrate’s court in Banjul and submitted that by virtue of Practice Directive One of 2013, a transferred case to the high court requires a fresh bill of indictment. He explained that the accused persons must be made to take their plea to the bill of indictment. What Yusuf wished to explain here is that a charge sheet from a magistrate’s court has to be replaced with a bill of indictment and the accused persons shall be called upon to take their plea.
In the instant case, the process before the court is the charge sheet from a magistrate’s court.
“We are to file a bill of indictment so as to comply with the procedure of the High Court.”
Yusuf added: “Taking into account that the case is coming for the first time, we would indulge the court to allow us time to file the bill of indictment before the next adjourned date.”
The Senior Lawyer further submitted that the case would not be able to proceed owing to the fact that two of the accused persons were not with legal representation as required by law. He stressed that charges of such nature require legal representation and therefore if they cannot afford or get a lawyer on their own, the court can make an order for the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) to represent them.
Lawyer Lamin S. Camara who represented Sanna Fadera (alleged ring leader) and Ebrima Baldeh, informed the court that he had concerns to express regarding the application by the State with respect to his two clients. He pointed out that they were detained since December 2022 and in the coming three days, they would have been one month in detention. He said they were detained in different military barracks until the 6th of January when they were arraigned before the Banjul Magistrate’s Court and were charged and remanded.
“It is not an excuse that these people are coming for the first time today,” Camara said. He submitted that the charge sheet contains the name of one Lamin Jadama who is at large, and emphasized that he cannot be tried in absentia.
“We want the State to put their house in order immediately so that we proceed to trial,” Camara said. He said his clients should enjoy their right to a speedy trial within a reasonable time. He pointed out that his clients have been in detention for almost one month without a charge. The other defence lawyers all associated themselves with Lawyer Camara’s submissions. Justice Mahoney in his ruling granted the application by AM Yusuf. He ordered that the case should be heard expeditiously as he commanded the State to file the indictment on or before Monday next week. He also ordered the State to ensure that the bill of indictment is served on all the accused persons on or before Tuesday next week. He adjourned the case to Wednesday, 25th January 2023 at 1 pm for hearing. Bakary Njie and Barra Touray indicated that they will be able to get lawyers before the next