Monday, December 4

Court gives state 7 days to file brief in Paulo & Co drug case

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Paulo Djabi Nadine Pereira, Mamadu Neto Djabi and Secuna Djabi were charged with possession of prohibited drugs, money laundering and conspiracy at the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.

They pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts of offences, and the first and second accused were granted a bail sum of One Million Dalasis each, while the second and third accused were granted the bail sum of Three Hundred Thousand Dalasis (D300,000) but the accused persons were still held by the state.

However, on Tuesday 31 October 2023, state prosecutors R. Jack and S.  Camara, together with Lawyer L.S. Camara and K. Jallow, appeared for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused.

State prosecutor R. Jack presented photocopies of the charged records to the court and the presiding Judge declined the copies and said that he could not proceed with those photocopies.

“As far as I am concerned, there are no records of appeal before the court apart from the charge sheet and the ruling of the Magistrates’ Court,” Justice Achibonga stated.

Defence Counsel Tambedou told the court that they came prepared for the case and they wanted the matter to proceed in the interest of justice and as long as the charge sheet and the ruling were the only records before the court.

Lead defence counsel further applied for the court to adopt the records from the magistrates’ court for the purpose of determination which the State Counsel did not object to.

The court ruled that since both counsel consented to the determination of the records before the court, the charged sheet certified and dated Oct 2023 and the ruling certified and dated Oct 2023 were adopted. However, the court stated that while waiting, the record of appeal could be transmitted to the court.

Counsel Tambedou said that the record of appeal was filed on 18 September and the state formulated their grounds of appeal, adding that they had six weeks to have formulated the grounds of appeal.

The state must have done their research, he adduced, pointing out that the grounds of appeal the state raised were the same arguments they raised before the Subordinate Court when the ruling was delivered on 14 September 2023 that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Meanwhile, the fourth accused, Secuna Djabi, was standing trial on one count of conspiracy. His counsel, C. Gaye, argued for his release on bail.

Counsel Gaye presented the court with information about the accused’s business operations in the country, emphasising he had no intention to evade the jurisdiction.

Counsel Gaye highlighted the fact that the accused’s mother, a Gambian, “owns property” in the country. Furthermore, she informed the court that Secuna Djabi was only charged with one count of conspiracy.

In the decision on the request for bail, the judge reinstated the bail that had been previously granted by the Magistrate Court under O. Jabang.

Justice Achibonga had granted a stay of execution of the bail granted by Principal Magistrate Jabang pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the State against Jabang’s ruling on 14 September this year. However, the stay was set aside for Secuna Djabi through his counsel.

The bail condition imposed by former Principal Magistrate Jabang remains in place, which means that the 4th accused is allowed bail in the amount of D300,000 and with two Gambian sureties.

The case was adjourned till 13 November for hearing of the appeal.