A tough legal battle took place at Banjul High Court as the case of opposition activist Ebrima Solo Sandeng resumed on Monday. The criminal case, involving 9 former top officers of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) allegedly linked with the death of United Democratic Party (UDP) youth leader, could not proceed due to “incomplete investigation”.
“The case before this court is not illegal as information has been filed by the prosecution, ” Justice Kumba Sillah said in her ruling rejecting calls unanimously made by defense counsels for the case to be stroke out and their clients discharged.
Ebrima Solo Sandeng reportedly died at the hands of Yaya Jammeh’s security agents following his arrest in April 14, 2016. Together with some UDP supporters, he staged a peaceful protest that was met with a full-scale crackdown by Gambia security personnel. Dozens of them were arrested, prompting party leader Ousainou Darboe to defy the Jammeh regime in the streets of Serrekunda. The move led to his arrest and dozens of his supporters including prominent members of UDP executive. The change of regime provided an opportunity for family members to seek redress in court as President Adama Barrow made It clear that his government will respect the rule of law. The remains of Ebrima Solo Sandeng were unearthed by investigators in order to determine the real cause of his death.
Last Monday’s hearing was punctuated by a heated debate between the prosecution and the team of defense counsels who strongly rejected an application for a “long adjournment” by State counsel M.B Abubacarr.
Senior defense counsel Menne objected to State prosecutors noting It is the third consecutive time that they are bieng told that the investigation is not concluded. He called on the court to release their clients as the case is not ready to proceed. ” When they are ready, they can arraign the accused persons,” he said.
Defense counsels Emmanuel Chime associated himself to the submission made by his colleague and was quick to point out that the court is not properly constituted in this matter. “The only alternative is for the court to strike out this matter. Unnecessary adjournments is tantamount to beating a lazy man to death,” he insisted.
Another defense counsel Moses Richards joined the chorus in indicating that “It is illegal for this court to keep them (the NIA 9) incarcerated, denying them bail.”
“We cannot do anything outside the law. Criminal cases cannot be adjourned more than two weeks,” lawyer Richards emphasized.
The DPP objected to the submissions made by defense counsels. “It is erroneous and misconceived for counsels to indicate that there is nothing before the court,” he stated.
DPP made it clear that their submissions lack merit and should be rejected by the court.
The case was subsequently adjourned till Monday 27 of march, 2017.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN