By Kebba Secka
Justice B.A Bakre has on Wednesday, 9th December 2020 closed the prosecution’s case in the trial of 3 Years Jotna members for their failure to appear.
A correspondence from the Attorney General’s Office was sent to the court informing the Judge of their absence and their reason for the absence. The writer informed the court that all the State Counsels have other matters to attend in other courts, which means there were no State counsels available to appear in the case. The writer requested for an adjournment.
The trial judge said the prosecution cannot be allowed to delay the case any further and he invited the defence lawyers to make comments on the prosecution’s letter.
The accused persons were involved in a protest held on the 26th January 2020 requesting President Adama Barrow to step down in accordance with promise he made to Gambians that he was going to serve for 3 years.
They are charged with of rioting, unlawful assembly and rioting after proclamation, but all the accused persons denied the charges.
The accused persons are Fanta Mballow, Ebrima Kitim Jarju, Sheriffo Janko, Abdou Njie (Chairman 3 Years Jotna), Katim Touray, Hagi Suwaneh,Yankuba Darboe, Muctar Ceesay and Bakary Camara.
So far, two witnesses have been called in the case by the prosecution. One of the witnesses has completed his testimony and the other is yet to complete his evidence.
Lawyer Lamin Camara in his comment said the prosecution has failed to demonstrate interest in the case. The Judge closed the prosecution case and called on the defence to open their case.
Lawyer Camara decided not to open their defence, instead he made a ‘no case to answer’ submission. Camara argued that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused persons. He said the prosecution has failed on their duty to establish a prima facie case as he relied on section 144 of the Evidence Act to say there is no case to answer.
Section 144 of the Evidence Act provides “if the commission of an offence by a party to any proceedings is directly in issue in any proceedings, civil or criminal, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.” Subsection 2 provides “the burden of proving that a person has been guilty of a crime or wrongful act is, subject to the provision of section 147, on the person who asserts it….”
“A prima facie case has not been established by the prosecution and I enjoin the court to acquit and discharge the accused persons,” Camara said.
He said the prosecution did not establish any prima facie case against the accused persons on all the three counts. He added that the permit in question has not been tendered before the court.
The Senior Lawyer said the accused persons were issued a permit to embark on the protest by the Inspector General of Police. Camara relied on section 208 of the Criminal Procedure Code in making his application.
The case will be coming on 13th January 2021 at 9:30 am.