By Mustapha Jarju
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court, on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023, struck out the birth certificate of the 2nd and 3rd accused Muhammed Njie and Muhammed Touray respectively while the original birth certificate of the 1st accused, Hadim Jeng was not presented in court.
The trio is charged with a murder trial involving the late Ousman Jarju, former Audit Staff of the National Audit Office.
Hadim Jeng, Muhammed Njie, and Muhammed Touray are charged with four counts of offense which include murder, robbery with threat, robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Justice Jaiteh, in his ruling on the motion filed by the defense Lawyer O Suso that his clients are minors, therefore, filed an application requesting the case to be moved to the juvenile court as he also argued that his clients being in detention at Mile 2 prison is illegal.
Justice Jaiteh said in his view only the 3rd accused is a minor within the meaning of the Children’s Act and has produced an original birth certificate to that effect.
He continued that “However, sections 2, 1, 3, 4, 5 stated that if a child is jointly charged with an adult, Children’s Court is seized of the jurisdiction to hear the matter.”
Justice Jaiteh ruled that since the 3rd Accused is charged with adults his court has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter and that the alleged offenses that are committed are not bailable as per the criminal procedures.
Lawyer “O. Suso for the counsel of the Applicants produced the original birth certificates of the 3rd applicant Muhammed Touray, however, the purported original (birth) certificate of the 2nd accused Muhammed Njie is not an original birth certificate as seen in the birth certificate. It is a product of the copy and not enforceable as required by the law,” Justice Jaiteh ruled.
Justice Jaiteh added that the first accused, Hadim Jeng does not have the original copy of the birth certificate as required by the law and that the photocopy does not meet the legal requirements, saying the first and the second birth certificate are not proper ones before the court and that the court cannot rely on them.
”Bail cannot be granted to Hadim Jeng, Muhammed Njie, and Muhammed Touray as they are over 18 years from the day of this ruling and are therefore properly remanded at the Mile 2 central prison and this is a fact since the 1st and the 2nd accused affidavit have not provided this court with any credible evidence to suggest to us that as at the time of the alleged offense, the three accused were minors under 18 years old,” he stated.
Justice Jaiteh also ruled that he is satisfied that the three accused are properly standing trial at the High Court and that the Application that the three accused are minors is baseless and he dismissed the application filed by the defense counsel.
Jaiteh however adjourned the matter to the 16th May 2023 at 11 am for vore dire.