As Gambian opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 19 other co-accused persons continue to stand trial in the absence of legal representation, calls are mounting from various quarters denouncing ‘a blatant abuse of due process.’
“There should not have been a trial,” the Secretary General of the Dakar-based RADDHO Aboubacry Mbodji told this reporter. “The United Democratic Party (UDP) leader and other accused persons were just exercising their constitutional right. This is simply a miscarriage of justice,” Mbodji added.
Last April, the UDP leader led hundreds of party loyalists to protest against the brutal police crackdown that has left opposition activist Solo Sandeng dead. The brutality also resulted to several opposition activists battle for survival.
Instead of producing Solo Sanddng — dead or alive, the Gambia government responded with brutality, using excessive force on peaceful protesters before arresting, demanding and slappingthem with bogus charged, including ‘conspiracy to commit felony.’
The sham trial is not without scandal, resulting to Justice Otaba recusing himself. The new Judge who has since taken over has been tweaking justice in favour of the state. Consequently, the entire defense walked out of the courtroom in Banjul on June 8th in protest against travesty.
Aboubacry Mbodji said legal representation brings fairness in court proceedings. “We are heading towards a predetermined outcome for the trial,” he stated.
Gambian activist lawyer Assan Martin threw his weight behind the defense team for not legitimising “parody of justice’.
He said the move taken by the authorities to transfer the trial of 14 protesters to Mansakonko high court did not follow the legal process.
“This is almost 300 km away from where they have been arrested. What is going on is a politically motivated trial,” lawyer Martin deplored.
Halifa Sallah of the opposition Peoples Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) also joined the legal frau Mr. Sallah warned against conditions of ‘possible mockery of justice.’
“The State should be advised to ease frustrations by rolling back impunity and discharge and release all those linked to the incidents associated with Sandeng,” he said in an open letter addressed to the Justice Minister.
Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) leader also defended Mr. Darboe and co-accused persons, insisting they have been dragged to court for “exercising their constitutional rights.” Omar Amadou Jallow said Gambian leader has no right to put them in prison more so to torment them with sham court case. “He (Yahya Jammeh) should even apologise to them!” Mr. Jallow voiced out.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN