Magistrate Isatou Janneh of Bundung on Thursday found an activist of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) guilty of broadcasting without license using Skype. Lasana Jobarteh was fined D50, 000 Dalasi or in default serves one year in prison.
The 59-year-old Jobarteh has been appearing before Magistrate Ebrima Kijera of Bundung throughout. Magistrate Kijera’s plans to deliver the verdict on the case on June 19 were halted by his immediate and unexplained transfer to Farafenni.
A newly graduated law student apparently stepped into the shoes of Mr. Kijera. Magistrate Isatou Janneh came to the crowded court with the sole mission of delivering the verdict.
“I find that the prosecution has proven its case against the accused person with certainty required by law and the accused is found guilty and accordingly convicted as charged,” Magistrate Janneh said, blaming the accused for broadcasting without license.
“Being ineligible does not warrant a person to broadcast without the required license. Thus I hold that the accused person broadcast without the required license and I therefore resolve this issue in favour of the prosecution.”
Lasana’s attorney took on Magistrate Janneh for committing legal blunders, arguing that the offence does not violate the Information Act. “The alleged offence committed is line with a political rally. Certainly the opportunities that avail to the main opponent is not avail to the accused to access information to supporters. This is not an offence of violence and has not impacted negatively on the society,” Lawyer Ousainou Darboe vigorously argued.
Lawyer Darboe’s request to extend the bail and suspend the verdict until August 4th was granted by the court. Darboe had earlier filed for “no case to answer” because the charge was inappropriately applied to Lasana Jobarteh who has not broadcasting station.
Mr. Jobarteh was arrested, detained and arraigned in court for facilitating the coverage of joint opposition rallies by the online radios using Skype in Serekunda and Brikama.