By Own Correspondent – The jailed former chief of defence staff Lt. Gen Lang Tombong Tamba and seven others convicted with him on Monday appeared at the Gambia court of appeal, before which they had filed an appeal against the death sentence imposed on them by the High Court in Banjul.
The other appellants are Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbye, Colonel Lamin Bo Badjie, Lt Colonel Kawsu Camara, former Deputy Inspector General of Police Modou Gaye, former diplomat Gibril Ngorr Secka, Abdoulie Joof, a businessman, and Youssef Ezzideen alias Rambo, also a businessman.
The appellants, who all appeared before the appeal court judges amidst tight security, are being represented by Pap Cheyassin Ousman Secka, Sheriff M Tambedou and R. Thomasi.
It would be recalled that the High Court presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi, on 15th July 2010, convicted and sentenced all the appellants to death after the court found them guilty of treason.
During yesterday’s proceedings, the Director of Special Litigations (DSL) at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Daniel O. Kulo, told the court that the state had served the appellants with the motion. PC Secka, the counsel who led the team of lawyers for the appellants, then said: “My lord, what I have seen is a motion dated 1st December 2010. It was served to my clients at the State Central Prisons at Mile 2. We will also file in an affidavit in opposition.”
He told the court that the said motion was served to his clients personally and, therefore, they are seeking for an adjournment so that they could also file a reply to the state’s respondent motion.
“My Lord, I went to Mile 2 and received the copies served to my clients on 3rd December 2010,” he told the court. “In view of that, we respectfully apply for an adjournment so that we can file in an affidavit in opposition, since some legal issues have been raised,” he added.
DSL Daniel O. Kulo again rose, and told the court that the state was opposing any adjournment on the grounds that the appellants’ counsel in his application did not advance any reason absolutely to file a counter affidavit.
DSL D.O. Kulo then cited Order 21 of the Court of Appeal rules, which he read in court to further strengthen his objection to the application for adjournment.
“My Lord, we have filed in our motion on 1st December 2010, and it is three days now. From the day the motion was served to the appellants up to today, there is no explanation on what the appellants’ counsel did with respect to the filing of a counter affidavit from Friday 3rd December to today 6th December,” submitted DSL D.O. Kulo.
He further submitted that if the counsel had taken diligent steps to file a counter affidavit, this court could even understand, but counsel failed to do so, he went on, while further urging the court to refuse the appellants’ counsel’s application for an adjournment, because he failed to advance any tangible reasons.
PC Secka again rose, and told the court that the fact known was that the appellants are being represented by counsel, adding that the three clear days have not, in fact, expired.
He cited section 32 of the Interpretation Act, which he read in court in support of his application for an adjournment, adding that there is no need to rush as the defence needs time for justice to be done.
Justice Wowo, the president of the Gambia Court of Appeal, subsequently adjourned the appeal to today. Other members of the court of appeal are Hon. Justice B. Kalaile and Hon. Justice Aminata Ngum.
It would be recalled that the convicted persons were charged with three counts of treason. The indictment stated that, between January and December 2009, they procured arms, ammunition, equipment and mercenaries from Guinea Conakry and other places to stage a coup and overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.