Gambia: Old Man Gets 10-Year Jail Term

The Banjul Magistrates' Court, presided over by Principal Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe on Friday convicted and sentenced one Mamadou Camara, a man said to be in his 70s to a mandatory jail term of 10 years. The convict was also ordered to pay an additional fine of D1 million in default to serve another three years imprisonment.

He was charged with two counts of possession of prohibited drugs for the purpose of drug trafficking, contrary to Section 43(4)(e) of the Drug Control Act 2003. The particulars of the offence revealed that the convict, on or about the 18th October 2011 at Kaur Police checkpoint, in the Central River Region (CRR), had in his possession 5kg, 552 grams and 4kg, 812grams respectively of Cannabis sativa, a prohibited drug.

On count two, he (the convict) was charged alongside Momodou Billo Barry for conspiracy to commit an offence, contrary to Section 53(1)(a) of the Drug Control Act 2003. The particulars of the offence stated that the two, on or about 18th October 2011 at Kaur Police checkpoint in CRR, conspired and had in their possession 5kg, 552 grams and 4kg, 812 grams respectively of Cannabis sativa, a prohibited drug. They all pleaded not guilty to the charge and the prosecution called five witnesses while the accused persons testified alone each in their defence.

The presiding magistrate however decided that the prosecution did not prove the offence of conspiracy against the two accused persons, as their relationship was merely that a driver-passenger. On that note, he (the magistrate) discharged and acquitted the second accused person, Momodou Billo Barry.

On the issue of count one, possession of prohibited drug for the purpose of drug trafficking, the court decided that the first accused is the actual owner of the drug as the evidence revealed that the first accused person owns the bags and when asked about the said bags, he said it was his medicine while the bags really contained Cannabis after it was searched at the police checkpoint in Kaur.

The court convicted the first accused person on the offence of possession of drug for the purpose of drug trafficking and the second accused was discharged and acquitted accordingly.

During his plea of mitigation, the convict urged the court to temper justice with mercy considering his age as he is in his 70s and has an extended family to take care of. The presiding magistrate however sentenced him to a mandatory jail term of 10 years, and in addition to pay a fine of D1 million, in default to serve another three-year imprisonment.

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