By Kemeseng Sanneh
Lawyers representing Yankuba Darboe, Chairman of Brikama Area Council, have asked trial magistrate L. Thomasi to recuse himself from the sedition trial.
The application for recusal was made after the court’s ruling against Darboe’s ‘no case submission’. The request was not opposed by the prosecution.
Darboe’s lawyers include Lamin S. Camara, Bory S. Touray, Kaddijatou Jallow, and F.S.M. Jaiteh. Police Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh, ASP B. Singhateh, ASP Lamin Trawally, Superintendent A. E. Keita, ASP J. Jah, and 7048 A. Bojang represented the Inspector General of Police.
In moving the motion, Lawyer L.S. Camara informed the court that Yankuba Darboe had sworn to a 31-paragraph affidavit, which the defence wants to rely on.
Paragraphs 1 to 10 provide the background and history of the case dating back to 2021. Paragraphs 12 to 31 elaborate on the process of the court ruling, which was delivered on August 17, 2023, and subsequently appealed on August 28, 2023. The defence sought the recusal of the presiding magistrate from further involvement in the case due to the overreaching nature of the ruling and its impact on the determination of the matter before the court.
Lawyer L.S. Camara argued that the ruling of August 17 has overreached the averment in multiple instances, and any defence to be mounted would be futile. He emphasized that a fair hearing, as guaranteed by Section 24 of the Constitution, requires that the accused be given a reasonable time for his or her defence, necessary preparation, and the opportunity to be heard. He stated that the ruling implies that the accused will be sentenced without having his defence heard, as he (Magistrate) has indicated the prosecution has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defence referred the court to paragraphs 16 to 23 of the affidavit, where they expressed their dissatisfaction with the magistrate on the ruling of the case. The defense submitted that the magistrate had already prejudged the ‘No Case to Answer ruling’ before determining the entire trial.
Counsel Camara further argued that the court considered extraneous matters and had pre-determined the outcome of the case without hearing the defence, rendering their defence academic and futile.
In response, the prosecution stated that they would not file an affidavit in opposition as the motion does not directly pertain to the prosecution’s case. They argued that the request for the recusal and stay of proceedings is a judicial matter for the court to decide and does not involve the prosecution.
However, the presiding magistrate stated that he had adopted the defence’s motion and both arguments by the prosecution and the defence, adding that the court would make a ruling in the subsequent hearing.
The case has been adjourned to September 25 at 11:30 a.m. for a ruling on the motion.