Aisha Tamba & Fatou Saho
The principal magistrate at the Kanifing courts, Omar Jabang, yesterday revoked the bail of 24 Bakau youths and ordered their arrest pending the hearing and determination of the ongoing trial of 33 youths accused of destroying the town’s main police station.
The 33 youths have been charged with taking part in a riot and causing damage to Bakau Police Station in December last year following the abduction and gruesome killing of a Bakau taxi driver.
The youths are facing eight counts, which they pleaded not guilty to.
The charges include conspiring to commit felony, preventing or obstruction of the making of a proclamation, rioters injuring buildings, machinery, violence, common nuisance, idle and disorderly behaviour, and rioting after proclamation.
They were granted bail in sum of D250,000 each with two Gambian sureties each.
During yesterday’s sitting, only nine out of the 33 accused persons were present in court.
Police prosecutor, Commissioner Sanneh applied for a bench warrant for the 24 absentees, arguing that it was not the first time for such absenteeism in the trial which was delaying the judicial process.
“This is a felony case and these people want to make it their business of not appearing in court so that the case would be adjourned again. …[I]t is now a habit for them to not appear,” he stated.
The defence counsel however pleaded to the court to give them a second chance, adding that she would personally ensure that all the accused persons are present in court at the next sitting.
“The attendance is poor but this is the first time to have this low turnout of the accused persons. On that note I plead for the case to be adjourned and not grant a bench warrant,” Counsel Camara objected.
Meanwhile, delivering his ruling, Magistrate Jabang said the case has suffered a setback because of the absence of the accused persons. “Today a significant number are absent without any reason. I have refused these applications to give the accused persons the benefit of the doubt. Today their absence is without any reason. I hereby grant the bench warrant to arrest the absent accused persons and if arrested should be put in police custody pending the hearing and determination of the case,” Magistrate Jabang ordered.