22 January 2013

Gambia: Mamburay Njie Denied Bail, But...

Mr. Mamburay Njie, former minister for finance and economic affairs, who is charged with economic crime and abuse of office, was yesterday denied bail by the High Court in Banjul, presided over by Justice Mikailu Abdullah.

Mamburay's first bail application was dismissed by the same court, presided by the same judge, due to what the judge described as lack of evidence on the detention of the accused.

L. S Camara, lawyer for the Mr. Njie, made a fresh application, pleading that the court declares the detention of his client as unconstitutional and granted him bail. He relied on constitutional provisions guaranteeing his client's liberty and also raised Njie's ill-health as grounds that should be considered by the court.

S.H Barkhum, Director of Public Prosecution, argued on behalf of the state that the detention of the accused is not in violation of the constitution. He added that his (Mamburay's) ill-health could have carried weight if he could not be treated by the health officers in the prison. The DPP stated that the accused is an influential person, and since investigations are still ongoing, and the accused if granted bail, could interfere with investigations.

Mr. Barkhum added that more charges are likely to be pressed against the accused and warned against granting him bail.

Justice Abdullah, ruled in favor of the state, stating that the detention of the accused is not in violation of the constitution because the accused had appeared before a court, where his plea was taken. He said the section relied on by the lawyer for the accused refers to circumstances where the person detained has not been taken to court. Justice Abdullah added that the accused is detained by an order of a court and therefore in accordance with the law and not unconstitutional.

On Mamburay's ill-health, the judge stated that courts have recognized ill-health as exceptional grounds to grant bail. However, he went on, bad or ill-health alone is not enough; it has to be shown that the accused could not be treated if he continues to be in detention or could affect the health of other inmates.

"I would have been mindful to release the applicant on bail today, but looking at his antecedents, and the fact that more are likely to be brought against him, the applicant is denied bail today but if no formal indictment is brought against him, ten days from now, I will grant him bail either conditionally or unconditionally," ruled Justice Abdullah.

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