By Omar Bah
The ruling on the bail application of the eight leaders of the banned Three Years Jotna Movement has been delayed for another week after presiding judge Amina Saho-Ceesay adjourned the case to Tuesday for the bail hearing.
She argued that the defence team should formally submit a written bail application.
Abdou Njie, Ebrima Kitim Jarju, Sheriffo Sonko, Hagi Suwaneh, Fanta Mballow, Karim Touray, Yankuba Darboe and Matarr Ceesay are charged with unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation and rioters demolishing structures.
The judge said the court should be guided on “the nature of the offences, criminal record of the accused persons, the likelihood of the accused persons jumping bail, community ties and employment status of the accused persons, immigration status if any, the possibilities of interfering with the investigations of the alleged offence and the possibility of the accused committing another offence.”
“I direct that this case be heard by way of formal application. By so directing, I take in consideration that the application for bail before me was made orally. In my view the defence as a consequence has not brought to the attention of the court the conditions of the accused persons favourable to the granting of bail,” she said.
She argued that in the defence submission they only communicated that the accused persons are Gambian nationals and that they have no intention of fleeing the jurisdiction.
“In my view an application for bail like other applications before the courts deserves to be heard on the merit. The defence ought to bring these facts or factors which if the prosecution so desires may challenge and bring forward reasons why the application must not be granted,” she added.
However, Justice Saho said the presumption of innocence alone doesn’t make the grant of bail automatic. “The issue of grant or refusal of bail is a discretionary matter.”
The decision of the court means the accused persons will have to spend at least another week in Mile 2.
Hundreds of Operation Three Years Jotna sympathisers chatted “Barrow must step down” as security whisked away the Jotna leaders into a waiting van back to Mile 2.
Hearing resumes Tuesday 11 and Friday 14 February respectively.