(JollofNews) – 19 opposition members in the Gambia who took to the streets in April to seek answers about the arrest and killing of one of their senior executive member by security officers, were today sentenced to three years in prison by a high court judge in Banjul.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) members including its leader, Ousainou Darboe, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Kemesseng Jammeh, Lamin Jatta, Babucarr Camara, Fakebba Colley, Ismaila Ceesay, Momodou Fatty, Dodou Ceesay, Samba Ceesay, Mamud Kinteh, Mfamara Kuyateh, Fanta Darboe, Lamin Njie, Juguna Suso, Momodou LK Sanneh, Yaya Jammeh and Masanneh Lalo Jawla were found guilty by Nigerian born judge, Justice Eunice Dada for taking part in an unlawful assembly, riot, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.
Yaya Bah who was arrested and charged together with the opposition members was acquitted and discharged for lack of sufficient evidence.
In summing up her verdict, the judge said she had looked at totality of facts, evidence and arguments of the state. She said three issues were taken into consideration in reaching the verdict which include the effect the refusal of the accused to participate in the trial, whether the prosecution have proven their case and whether the case has been proven against all the accused.
“Where there is no evidence, the natural thing is for the court to reach a conclusion based on facts before it. The court is properly constituted and the trial is lawful,” she said.
Justice Dada added that because the accused have refused to participate in the proceedings and rested their case on the prosecution, their liability rested on the evidence before the court and what the court believes and does not believe.
She stated: “The fact shows that the accused went out on demonstration against the alleged death of one of their members. They did not have a permit which was deliberate. A confrontation with the police occurred and panick and fear were caused.
“It is to be noted that a procession would naturally obstruct traffic. Processions that are controlled by law enforcement will ease traffic. I find it convincing that there was riotous interference with vehicles.” Sentences
The judge said she is satisfied prosecution have proven its case and that the accused have disobeyed an order by the police to disperse and have also conspired to commit a misdemeanor.
She therefore sentenced them to one year jail term on count 1, six months on count 2,3, 4 and 5 and three years on count 6. She said all sentences are to run concurrently.
No ill will
Meanwhile, Justice Dada has assured Gambians that Nigerian judges are in the country to uphold the law of the land.
“Myself and my brother Nigerian judges we beat no ill will towards the accused,” she said.