Four(4) members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and one (1) policeman have all pleaded not guilty to the five (5) charges against them by the State after they were accused of plotting a coup against the government of President Adams Barrow.
The case came yesterday, 2nd February 2023 before Justice Basiru V.P. Mahoney sitting as high court judge in the matter. They were accused of plotting a coup against the Gambia Government sometime in December 2022.
The accused persons were Lance Corporal Sana Fadera (alleged ring-leader), Petty Officer Gibril Darboe, Corporal Ebrima Sanno, Corporal Omar Njie, and Sub-Inspector of Police Fa Bakary Jawara. They are charged with treason, concealment of treason, conspiracy, and inciting mutiny.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Abdul Maita Yusuf appeared for the State together with Senior State Counsel Patrick Gomez, Lamin Jarju, and M. Touray.
AM Yusuf informed the court that the Attorney General has signed a consent (fiat) for the prosecution of the accused persons on the 23rd of January in line with the provision of Section of the Criminal Code. This 39 provision provides that no one shall be prosecuted for treason and related offences without the written consent of the Attorney General
All the accused persons chose to speak in English except Omar Touray who chose translation into the Mandinka language. After the charges were read to them, all of the accused persons pleaded not guilty and the court entered a plea of not guilty for them.
Counsel Yusuf for the State applied for an adjournment. Senior Lawyer Lamin S. Camara objected on the basis that the State has not served them with the evidence they intend to rely on in the case.
He said this includes the list of witnesses and a summary of their statement and audio among others. Lawyer Camara said the law provides that the defence shall be provided with all the evidence the prosecution intends to rely on to prepare for their defence.
State Counsel Yusuf cited Section 175C of the CPC saying the law did not dictate the prosecution to serve any evidence that they intend to rely on. Section 175C is titled Form and Content of the Bill of Indictment. He said what the law permits is for the defence to request and not to demand.
“So if my landed counsel is making a request we will endeavor to do so, but not demand,” Yusuf said.
Lawyer Camara then drew his attention to section 175C sub-section 3. This provision provides reads: “The prosecution may, and shall if so directed by the court, deliver into the custody of the court all documents and things which, according to the summary of evidence, are intended to be put into evidence at trial.”
Justice Mahoney passed an order directing the prosecution to serve all the defendants (accused persons) with the witness’s statements and audios they intend to rely on in the case before Monday next week.
Justice Mahoney made another order for Corporal Omar Njie to be moved from the Fajara Barracks to the State Central Prisons, Mile 2. This came about after his lawyer (Lamin R. Darboe) informed the court that his client was detained at the military barracks which is not a recognized detention center by the State.
The case was adjourned to the 8th, 14th, 21st, 23rd, and 28th February at 12:00, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, and 2nd March at 13:00 respectively, for hearing