Counsels Battle Over Jotna Leaders’ Bail

By Abdoulie John

In the Jotna movement 8 trial, defense lawyers on Tuesday went head to head with state prosecutors over the bail application. Tuesday’s marathon hearing was punctuated by submissions from both the prosecution and defense, arguing on whether to grant bail to the accused persons.

As the prosecution challenged the motion filed by the defense through an affidavit in opposition, Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay asked the defense whether they have any objection on the affidavit in opposition to the defendant’s motion.

Lead senior defense counsel Rachel Y. Mendy said there is nothing in the said affidavit opposing the application for bail.

The eight top executives of the banned Three Years Jotna were arrested last month after their protest march turned violent, resulting to the arrest, detention and subsequent arraignment of the movement’s leaders. After being charged with three criminal counts, including arson, the accused persons first appeared before Kanifing Magistrate’s Court before their case was transferred to the High Court in Banjul.

Lawyer Mendy debunked the argument on paragraph 4 of the affidavit in opposition, arguing that “the bail application has been overtaken by events.”

Lawyer Mendy also reminded the court that any person in custody can file an application for bail, irrespective of stages the of proceedings.

The affidavit in opposition, she explained, doesn’t amount to opposing the bail. “The accused persons are innocent until proven guilty,” she said.

Objecting the defense submission, state prosecutor Patrick Gomez said it is undeniable that the affidavit was sworn before a person duly authorized.

“We urge this honourable court to proceed and accept this affidavit,” he said in a crowded court.

Seasoned defense counsel Lamin S. Camara added weight to their arguments.”The offenses of which the applicants were arrested, detained and arraigned are all bailable offenses,” he told the court. “The applicants will not jump bail.”

He assured the court that the accused persons will not interfere with witnesses in any circumstances, and that they will avail themselves to any court to stand trial.

The case was subsequently adjourned until Friday 14 February 2020 for the prosecution to reply to the submissions made by the defense. Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay will hand down a ruling on the bail application filed by the defense team after having gone through the submissions of the opposing parties.


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