By Baba Sillah
A High Court in Banjul yesterday dismissed the application to squash charges against the NIA 9 and urged them to take their plea.
The defence lawyers had asked the court to strike out the following grounds: that the charges are not properly constituted; at the time when the information was filed there was no incumbent director of public prosecution; that the office of the director of public prosecution is separated from the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and that the deputy director of public prosecution MB Abubacarr is incompetent.
However Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara who delivered the ruling said the application lacked merit and therefore dismissed the entire application. She added that assuming without conceding that there is no incumbent director of public prosecution, that does not mean that the office cannot function in the absence of the DPP.
She further ruled that the defence was just speculating without furnishing the court that there was no incumbent DPP at the time the charges were made and therefore such allegation cannot stand before the court.
The nine officials however denied all the charges ranging from murder, assault, forgery and conspiracy among other related charges.
Immediately after plea taking before adjourning the case, the lead defence lawyer, CE Mene raised the fundamental rights of the accused persons, which he said should be respected at all times.
Barrister Mene argued that the accused persons’ rights to dignity must be respected as they are still presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court, noting that they should not be handcuffed when they are coming to court as they are already escorted by a heavy security.
Responding to defence notice, the deputy director of public prosecution, MB Abubacarr said they are not aware of the rights of the accused persons being violated and that they will not support the violation of their rights in any form.
In order to expedite the trial the court set aside the May 8,9,10 and 11 from 12 to 2pm for hearing.