16 January 2013

Gambia: Court Defers Decision On Mambury Njie's Bail Application

The bail application of Mr. Mambury Njie, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs set for ruling suffered another setback yesterday at the High Court in Banjul after the trial Judge Justice Mikailu Abdullah of the Criminal Court decided to adjourn the case as he has other matters to attend.

"I cannot give the ruling today.

I am having a very tight schedule for the day", asserted Justice Mikailu Abdullah, the trial judge.

The trial judge said he was going for a meeting. He said he was supposed to attend the court martial at the Yundum Barracks which he said was cancelled for the meeting. He has decided to adjourn the case till next week.

In the meantime, SH Barkun, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dilated on the affidavit he filed in opposition to the motion. He continued to argue on the definition of the word 'warrant' which he said meant the same as 'court order'. He read from a Glasgow pocket dictionary.

The state counsel went further to refer the court to a website for legal definition which was objected to by the defence. Lawyer Lamin S Camara, the defence counsel argued that the website cannot be used as an authority in court. He argued that there are many websites on legal definitions which cannot be used in court.

The state counsel was questioned about the name of the website by the court. He gave a website address which he read from a page.

"law.yourdictionary.com/warrant", he read to the court.

At this juncture, there was murmuring and laughter at the court.

"I submit that the arrest and detention of the applicant is justifiable", submitted the state counsel.

The Director of Public Prosecutions mentioned the statement of the judicial authorities to rely entirely on court for such matters. He argued that the bulk of the burden in assisting the court to exercise discretion is substantially on the shoulder of the appellant. He mentioned the guiding principles of the court.

"There is an eminent fear that if the applicant is released he may interfere with the investigation of the case", said the DPP.

The state counsel submitted that the investigation is ongoing and the appellant may tamper with the investigation especially his subordinates in the various offices he held. He submitted that the appellant may not surrender himself after release on bail. He also mentioned the severity of the case among other things to deny bail to the appellant.

"It will send a wrong signal if the applicant is granted bail", he pointed out.

The DPP referred the court to the ruling of Justice Mahoney in the case of the state against one Mr. Lang Dibba. He argued that the diabetes ailment of the appellant can be treated at the central prison. He further argued that there are expertise and doctors at the prison who can treat the appellant or otherwise the RVT Hospital is not far from the prison.

However, the defence counsel has objected to the statements. He argued that statements of facts must be on the affidavits. He submitted that the state counsel is stating things that were not in his affidavit. The court has ordered the state counsel to confine himself to the statements on his affidavit.

"We submit that no compelling reasons are given to release the appellant on medical reason", submitted the DPP.

The defence counsel has made objections but the court has assured that it would look at all the affidavits. The state counsel argued that the authorities have the capacity to treat the appellant at the prison. He submitted the court to decline the release of the appellant conditionally or unconditionally.

"It is wrong to say that court orders are not written. There has to be a record of the court of remanding the appellant", submitted Lawyer Camara, the defence counsel.

Lawyer Camara argued that the language on the section of criminal procedure cited by the state counsel is clear. He quoted that the lower court may remand the appellant until the case is mentioned at the High Court. He argued that it is not a blank check for remand.

The defence counsel argued that the warrant is not a court order. He read the definition of the two words from the Black Law Dictionary. He argued that nothing was stated in the dictionary where a warrant is the same as court order.

Lawyer Camara argued that the case of Lang Dibba has no connection with the case. He argued that the difference is that Lang Dibba and others were charged while his client was not charged for 31 days. He argued that no amount of money is mentioned in the charge sheet against his client.

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