Justice Basiru Mahoney of the High Court & Sanna Fadera- Convicted of Treason
By Landing Ceesay
Hon. Justice Basiru V. P. Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia has handed down a 12-year prison sentence to Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera, who was convicted of treason.
The ruling follows Justice Mahoney’s determination that the evidence established Fadera’s involvement in plotting to unlawfully overthrow the government of the Gambia.
Prior to the pronouncement of the sentencing decision by the Honorable Justice Mahoney, Counsel LS Camara, acting as the representative for Sanna Fadera, presented a plea for leniency, urging the court to impose a more lenient punishment on his client.
Counsel LS Camara implored the court to refrain from imposing the death penalty on Sanna Fadera.
“My lord, this court has the jurisdiction and powers to hand down a lesser punishment to the 1st accused. This court is empowered to hand down any punishment for any offence punishable by death, as stated in Section 27 of the Criminal Code. The convict (Sanna Fadera), yes, the allegations were contested, evidence was adduced, but as far as the records are concerned, he is a first-time offender. He is young and at the age of his prime. My lord, he is a lab scientist who provided a magnificent service to the people of Kiang and the Gambia at large.
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“He (Sanna Fadera) has four children, very young children, and my lord, he is the only breadwinner in his extended and nuclear family. He has served the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) so well and distinctively. He served in the Army for 12 years. Even after completing his degree at the University of the Gambia, he still went back to the Army to serve his country. It is against this background that I am urging this honorable court to temper justice with mercy to not hand down life imprisonment or the death penalty to the convict (Sanna Fadera),” Counsel LS Camara pleaded to the court.
LS Camara, counsel for Sanna Fadera, urged the court to hand down a lesser punishment to his client, arguing that all humans make mistakes.
Director of Public Prosecution AM Yusuf, representing the state, acknowledged the court’s judgment, but announced his intention to appeal the acquittal and discharge of the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th accused persons.
DPP Yusuf urged the court to remand the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th accused persons pending the hearing and determination of the appeal, arguing that treason is a capital offense, even though there was no loss of life in this case. He warned that the nation would have suffered negative consequences if the coup had happened.
“The weight of the sentence will send a strong message to any attempted coup, and it will also serve as a deterrent against all attempted coups in the future,” he told the court.
Counsel LS Camara objected to the State’s application to remand the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th accused persons, arguing that there is no legal basis for remanding acquitted and discharged defendants.
“The accused persons have been in custody for nearly one year now without bail. So if the court found them not guilty, my lord, then they ought to enjoy the fruit of the liberty given to them by this honorable court,” Counsel LS Camara told the court.
Counsel LS Camara argued that the court has the discretion to release the second, third, and fifth defendants.
In his ruling on the arguments, Justice Mahoney stated that the first defendant (Sanna Fadera) is a first-time offender and that the attempted treason was non-violent. However, he noted that treason is a capital offense. Therefore, he invoked Section 29 of the Criminal Code to sentence Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera to 12 years in prison. He also granted bail to the second, third, and fifth defendants at a sum of D100,000 each with one Gambian surety pending the hearing and determination of the state’s appeal.
“Therefore I shall invoke Section 29 of the Criminal Code to sentence Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera for a period of 12 years and the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th accused persons are hereby granted bail at a sum of D100,000 each with one Gambian surety pending the hearing and determination of the appeal the state intended to file,” Hon. Justice Mahoney said.
Hon. Justice Mahoney ordered the state to file any appeal they intend to file 20 days from today (October 31, 2023).