By Gambian Correspondent – The Special Criminal Court in Banjul presided over by Justice Joseph Enwa Ikpala yesterday acquitted and discharged 12 out of the 16 accused persons standing trial on terrorism-related offences.
This followed a ruling he delivered on the no-case-to-answer submission filed by the defence counsel representing the accused persons, after the prosecution closed its case.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions SH Barkun shortly after the ruling informed the judge that the state would appeal against their acquittal, citing the criminal code.
DDPP Barkun urged the court to remand in custody those acquitted and discharged, pending the filing of the appeal against their acquittal.
Defence counsel Edrissa Sissoho, who also held brief for Lawyer Lamin Camara, disagreed with the state prosecutor’s argument that the court should remand them in custody, adding that the court had acquitted and discharged his clients based on the evidence adduced in court by the prosecution witnesses.
He therefore urged the court to grant bail to the persons it acquitted and discharged, adding that they have been in detention at Mile 2 Prison since 2006.
Justice Ikpala in his ruling subsequently granted bail to acquitted and discharged persons, which was set at D250,000 each with a Gambian surety.
The condition further stipulated that they should report to the High Court registrar forthwith and deposit their residential addresses.
Those acquitted and discharged included Samsideem Jammeh, Kebba Seckan former NIA operative, Kemo Conteh and Sam Kambai former army sergeant, all Gambians, while Mansour Jatta, Sedat Jatta, Sedat Jarju, Fabia Nyafuneh, Pa Ousman Badjie, Abdoulie Jatta, Mumin Bah and Abdoulie Jarju, are all Senegalese.
They were alleged to have, on 8 August 2006 at Darsilameh village and diverse places in the West Coast Region, “jointly conducted and engaged themselves in an unlawful act which may seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental, political, constitutional, economic and social structure of The Gambia.”
Accused persons were first arraigned at the Brikama Magistrates’ Court in 2009, charged with “prohibition of act of terrorism,” contrary to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002. The case was later transferred to the Special Criminal Court of the High Court in Banjul.
Justice Ikpala following his ruling on a no-case-to answer submission called on Alasana Thomas Jarju, Maulud Badjie, Lasana (Prosper) Sambou, and Ousman Jarju, to open their defence as the prosecution had established a prima facie case against them.
In his ruling, Justice Ikpala told the court that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses did not link those acquitted and discharged to the offences they stand charged with, and had woefully failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
However, he said he was convinced that the four accused persons had a case to answer, as the evidence adduced linked them to the indictments preferred against them.