The case was stayed by the high court following the application for stay of proceeding by prosecution pending the hearing and determination of the appeal case before the Gambia Court of Appeal.
The Justices of the Gambia Court of Appeal in their united judgment said the High Court judge shouldn’t have granted the stay because it caused unnecessary and unjustifiable delay to the case to the accused persons who are ready to enter their defence and have nothing to do with the appeal. The three justices in the persons of Haddy C. Roch, Basiru Mahoney and Idrissa Fafa Mba’ I all held that the stay of proceeding caused unnecessary delay and has infringed the fundamental rights including the constitutional right to appeal.
The case was called on Tuesday before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court for mention, but the accused persons were not brought by the prison authorities. The court adjourned the matter to Tuesday, 20 October 2020 at 1 p.m. for hearing.
The accused persons are Yankuba Badjie, an ex-director of the NIA, Sheikh Omar Jeng, an ex-director of Operations at the NIA, Baboucar Sallah, Haruna Suso, Tamba Mansareh, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang. The 2nd accused person, Louise Gomez, an ex-deputy director of the said agency, died whilst under the custody of the State, during the course of this trial. However, Yusupha Jammeh, the 6th accused person was acquitted by the Court upon the State’s application for his acquittal for lack of evidence to continue with prosecuting him.
They are standing trial on several offences ranging from conspiracy to commit felony, assault causing serious bodily harm, murder and making false documents amongst others summing up to twenty-five criminal counts. The accused persons all denied any wrongdoing.
The prosecution had already called 35 witnesses who have all testified in the case and closed their case, but when it was the turn of the defence, some of the accused persons made a ‘no case submission’ which was not successful.
The accused persons were called upon to open their defence but the first accused person, Yankuba Badjie informed the court that he was not ready to open his defence pending the outcome of his appeal before the Court of Appeal and that the other accused persons could proceed with their defence. Then the prosecution made an application for stay of proceedings in the wake of the first accused person’s refusing to open his defence at that stage. The court in its ruling granted the order for stay of proceedings until the conclusion of the case in Court of Appeal. Sheikh Omar Jeng who is the third accused person in the case informed the court that he was ready to enter his defence.
“The trial ought not to have been stayed- it should have continued,” Justice O.M.M. Njie said.
“The eight accused persons have nothing to do with this appeal so it caused unjustifiable delay,” Justice Mahoney said.
“There is no law which makes it mandatory to testify in the order of their names in the indictment. There are accused persons who are ready to testify so the high court can proceed to hear the accused persons who are ready to enter their defence. The stay of proceeding prolonged the detention of the accused persons,” Justice Roche said.
She said the stay of proceeding infringed the rights of the other accused persons who have nothing to do with the appeal and are ready to enter their defence.