3 Years Jotna Trial: Prosecution, Defense Spar Over Bail

By Abdoulie John

The eight top executives of the Jotna movement who face three counts of unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation, and rioters demolishing structures, Tuesday appeared before the High Court.

When the case came up for hearing senior defense counsel R.Y. Mendy told the court that the accused persons have been detained since January 26 and that the Constitution affords them a fair hearing. She said the state knew very well that the matter can only be heard before the High Court in Banjul.

“Instead, they decided to take them before a magistrate court for the sole purpose of further delaying the fair hearing of the matter,” she told the court presided over by Justice Amina Ceesay-Saho. “Under these circumstances, we wish to apply for a bail for all the accused persons.”

Abdou Njie, Ebraima Kitim Jarju, Sheriffo Sonko, Hagi Suwaneh, Fanta Mballow, Karim Touray, Yankuba Darboe and Muctarr Ceesay have been arrested after their demonstraton turned violent, prompting a State on ban 3 Years Jotna movement “from ever operating within the shores of The Gambia.”

Backing up her argument, Counsel Mendy cited a May 2019 murder case involving Henry Gabriel who faced manslaughter charges but was granted bail by the Supreme Court. She further evoked another case linked to Hagi Jabbie who was granted bail by the said court despite being charged with arson.

State counsel P. Gomez debunked the argument of the defense suggesting that the state is playing delaying tactics. “We humbly submit that the State has no intention to delay this trial,” he emphasized.

State Prosector Gomez pointed out that one of the offences attracts life imprisonment. He subsequently told the court that the law made it clear that the accused persons shall not be granted bail.

Counsel Gomez challenged the defense submission on the argument that the Supreme Court set a precedent in granting bail to an accused person facing the risk of being sentenced to death. “It was a bail pending appeal,” he said. “The case before this court is not that of an appeal.”

State counsel urged the court to desist from granting the eight accused bail.

Justice Aminata Ceesay-Saho adjourned the hearing until Thursday for ruling on the bail application filed by the defense.


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