By Nicholas Bass
Justice Basirou V.P. Mahoney of the Banjul High Court on Tuesday sentenced Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera to twelve years imprisonment and acquitted and discharged two soldiers and one police officer.
Justice Mahoney yesterday delivered his verdict in the trial of the quartet over charges of treason, concealment of treason and mutiny.
In his marathon judgment, Justice Mahoney said the first prosecution witness Barra Touray in his evidence adduced that Sanna Fadera visited him at the 1st Infantry Battalion in Yundum six months ago to communicate to him his intention of overthrowing the Barrow government. The judge said Touray also testified at the court that he was telephoned by Fadera in October 2022, asking him to convince some soldiers from the 1st Infantry Battalion to participate in the attempted coup.
”Barra also said that Sanna called him on 18 December 2022, telling him that they were going to have a meeting and then later called him again that the meeting was successful, ” Justice Mahoney said.
The judge also said that the third prosecution witness Mamat Jobe; an army captain attached to Farafenni Barracks, in his evidence said that Sanna phoned him and said that he wanted to visit him [Capt. Jobe], noting that when Sanna came to Jobe’s house in the night, he [Fadera]also disclosed his intention to overthrow the government but Jobe advised him to desist from such acts. Justice Mahoney went on to say that Sanna showed Jobe the operational plan of the attempted coup and he [Jobe]responded by saying that “this was bigger than me”.
Despite his denial of plotting to overthrow the government coupled with his denial of the charges of treason, incitement and mutiny, exhibits P9 and P10 revealed that Fadera made multiple telephone calls with the 7th prosecution witness Karamo Jatta, the 5th accused Fabakary Jawara and the 4th prosecution witness Mustapha Jabbie as clearly indicated by his telephone calls. Justice Mahoney said that such telephone calls of Sanna on 18 December 2022, were a clear indication of his involvement in a meeting that was held at Kafuta.
”I hereby found Sanna Fadera guilty of treason contrary to Section 35 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code in that he prepared to overthrow the Government of The Gambia and hereby convicted same,” Justice Mahoney said.
Justice Mahoney, however, acquitted and discharged Petty Officer Gibril Darboe, Corporal Ebrima Sannoh and Fabakary Jawara on the charges of treason and concealment of treason, noting that the State failed to prove their case against the trio beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lead defense lawyer for Fadera and Jawara Lamin S.Camara pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercyby giving him a lesser punishment, stating that his client is a potentially qualified lab technician. Lawyer Camara also said that Fadera is a responsible parent with four children, noting that he came back to serve the nation upon completion of his degree course at the University of The Gambia.
The Director of Public Prosecution(DPP), A.M Yusuf,opposed defense lawyer Camara’s application and urged the court to reject his application, noting that the punishment for treason is life imprisonment.
DPP Yusuf also applied for Gibril Darboe, Ebrima Sannoh and Fabakary Jawara to be put on remand, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Justice Mahoney, at this juncture, granted defense lawyer Camara’s application and sentenced Sanna Fadera to 12years imprisonment. He also granted bail to Gibril Darboe, Ebrima Sannoh and Fabakary Jawara in thesum of D100, 000. They must provide a Gambian surety as a bail requirement.