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City of Banjul
Sunday, September 20, 2020

Closed–door trial for suspected gay

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“It is both trite and conventional in this jurisdiction that evidence of certain public officers is usually heard in private and this has been a common practice,” state prosecutor, A.M Yusuf, argued.

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He added: “By the nature of their job, their identity is not always revealed to the public. The defence will not be prejudiced in anyway, if the evidence of the witnesses is received in chambers since the accused and his counsel will both be present during testimony of the witnesses in chambers.”

Sowe’s lawyer, Combeh Gaye-Coker, however urged the court not to grant the request. “There is no reason that their evidence should not be taken in an open courtroom,” she said. “I did not see how it will prejudice the interest of justice.” 

In his ruling, Justice Simon Abi said: “I will choose to err on the side of caution by protecting the identity of the proposed witnesses at this stage. Should I be later furnished with a reason to hold otherwise, I will certainly remove any protection now granted.

“I know for a fact that security operatives who require such identity protection are mostly undercover operatives. Here, they are simply said to be security operatives. I could call for better particulars from the state, but that itself, if done in open court, may endanger even more the security the state wishes to protect.” 

The case will resume on March 4. Momarr is facing 5 charges of ‘unnatural behaviour’. He pleaded not guilty. He was granted bail last week in the sum of D2 million. 

However, Sowe is still detained at Mile 2 Central Prison. Family members, who wish to remain anonymous, said they could not fulfil the bail condition. 

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