All roads lead to Brikama this morning where thousands of people converge to witness the case of the Kartong 33. And to their utter dismay, everything moves fast like a wind. The state prosecutor E. Sarr cracks the nut when he files an application even before the remanded environmental activists appear in court. His application to withdraw all the five charges in a highly charged case is an instruction that emanates from the high police command. He therefore wants to use Section 68 subsection 1 of the Criminal Procedure Code to nail the coffin.
The lead defence counsel does not mince his words to pour out his heart. Barrister Lamin J Darbo does not oppose the withdrawal but draws the court’s attention of a violation of his right to access his clients at Mile 2 Central Prisons on Friday.
Darboe says his clients have not been remanded in Mile 2 as ordered by the court. They were instead kept in solitary confinement. “The whole thing is now left to the people of Kartong to decide how they want to proceed wThe their matter,” Barrister Darbo tells the crowded court.
Also in court to offer solidarity to the Kartong people are the opposition United Democratic Party youths. For them, the issue at hand in Kartong cuts across party politics. “UDP youths will stand in solidarity with Gambian youths regardless of their support for the party. We stand in solidarity with all oppressed people of the Gambia. We feel the pains of the Kartong people because we have all undergone draconian state misuse of powers. Together change can come to the Gambia,” UDP youth executive says.
“It is our view that Kartong people should not allow themselves to be fooled by the presidential orders,” the opposition youth executive told Kairo News at the court. “Kartong must still demand the protection of their environment and that the alleged involvement of the President’s brother, Ansumana Jammeh, be investigated on grounds of instigating the paramilitary police to physically assault the youths.”
The onus now on the whole of Kombo South, according to opposition youths, is to speak with one voice, demand protection of their natural habitat and some benefits to mining in their region.