By Lamin E. Fatty
The thirteen accused persons arrested in the midst of a massive demonstration few days ago were granted bail today, Tuesday, June 6th, 2017, by Principal Magistrate Omar Cham of the Brikama Magistrate’s Court.
The accused persons are; Ebou Sayang, Ansu Jatta, Anthony Jammeh, Lamin Kujabi, Sambujang Badgie, Kaddy Badgie, Momodou Jallow, Awa Badgie, Ebrima Jammeh, Abubakarr Tamba, Assan Badgie, Cham Jarju and Sheikh Omar Sanneh.
They are charged with five counts of offences, including unlawful assembly, conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, protest and damage to public property, all contrary to the Laws of The Gambia.
The court granted bail to the accused persons pending the fulfilment of stringent conditions such as a D500,000.00 to be provided by each and two Gambian sureties for each of the accused persons.
Each of the accused persons is henceforth suspended to be among a group of more than five for the entire duration of the case, failure to comply shall result to the forfeit of the bail already being granted. The magistrate said the harsh bail condition is meant to prevent the accused persons from being able to organise or participate in any other protest to endanger national security.
The entire accused persons are to be present in all the case hearings and must all tender a valid national identification card before the court. The accused persons are thirteen in number, including two women, one of whom is pregnant.
They were brought to court at 13.00pm local time amidst heavy security surveillance within the premises of the court.
Hundreds of family members and some prominent surrogates of the APRC including the defeated National Assembly candidate for Brikama North Constituency, Mr. Modou Jarju were spotted among the crowd.
The court room was full to the maximum even before the court officially starts to hear the matter.
The state was represented by Inspector Gibba as the lead prosecutor, assisted by Sergeant 2294, whilst the accused persons are represented by Lawyer Ebrima Jallow, contracted by the APRC party on behalf of all the accused persons.
Prior to the granting of bail to the accused persons, the defence lawyer apologised for his absence during yesterday’s proceeding but was quick to put it to the magistrate that he believes the accused persons were not able to properly fight for themselves as many of them are illiterate and cannot understand all the rights accorded to them as accused persons. He therefore officially applied for the court to grant his clients bail.
In response, the magistrate asked whether the accused persons are able to speak court language in the previous sitting, saying it is irrelevant because they argued to their best for the court to grant them bail but he refused based on legal grounds.
However, he said he is under oath to deliver justice without fear or favour, as a result, he is inclined to grant the accused persons bail as all the five counts of offence are bail able.
They were arrested following a massive demonstration five days ago at Kanilai village, the birth place of the former president Yahya Jammeh. The rioters were demanding the withdrawal of Gambian military contingent stationed together with the ECOMIG forces as a stabilisation force following the disputed presidential election in December 2016, which nearly drew the country to a brink of war, following the refusal of the defeated former president, Dictator Yahya Jammeh to hand over power to the democratically elected President, His Excellency Adama Barrow.
The case is adjourned to the 20th of June at 12.00pm for hearing.