By Bruce Asemota
Justice Basirou V Mahoney has convicted and sentenced Corporal Sanna Fadera of the Gambia Armed Forces to twelve years imprisonment after he was found guilty of treason.
However, Fadera was discharged on the second count, also, a treason charge alongside Gibril Darboe, Ebrima Sano and Babucar Jawara.
The later trio was also acquitted and discharged on the counts of concealment of treason.
The court also cleared Sanna from a single count of mutiny.
Delivering judgment, Justice Mahoney explained that all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and the prosecution called eight witnesses whilst the accused persons entered their defence but did not call any witnesses.
Mahoney took time to chronicle all the evidence of the prosecution witnesses and that of the accused persons, noting that some of the prosecution witnesses were accomplices.
He further disclosed that Sanna Fadera denied ever planning to overthrow the government of the Gambia and also denied having meetings with some of the prosecution witnesses and the other accused persons.
The trial judge revealed that Sanna Fadera denied ever having any discussion with anyone about overthrowing the government of the Gambia in December 2022.
Justice Mahoney stated the importance of corroboration in criminal trial notably in treason trial and cited the case of General Lang Tombong Tamba.
He cited the Gambia Court of Appeal warning that a court should not convict any person on uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice.
The trial Judge said he found the evidence of prosecution witnesses 3, 6, 7 and 8 convincing as they are not accomplices.
He said the prosecution had proven the charge of treason against Sanna Fadera, noting that he was convinced that Fadera made a preparation to overthrow the government of the Gambia.
He also said Sanna Fadera’s telephone conversation with all the accused persons and the meeting he had with some of the accused persons is an indication that he made preparation to overthrow the government of the Gambia.
Justice Mahoney said the prosecution could not prove the offence of treason against Gibril Darboe and the concealment of treason against Ebrima Sano and Babucarr Jawara.
He said the evidence of prosecution witnesses 4 and 7 are evidence of accomplices and he cannot convict on evidence of accomplices, noting that there were accomplices who were not charged.
He therefore found Sana Fadera guilty of treason on count one and accordingly acquitted the 2nd, 3rd and 4th accused persons on treason and acquitted Sanna Fadera on the mutiny charge.
Before passing the sentence, Defense Lawyer LS Camara enjoined the court to tamper justice with mercy and impose a lesser sentence on Sanna Fadera and admit the other accused persons to bail, noting that the accused persons have just gone through a terrible moment in their lives.
The DPP, A M Yusuf told the court that the penalty for treason is death or life imprisonment and urged the court to impose either of the two for Sanna Fadera.
DPP Yusuf cited section 285(e)(2) of the CPC and asked the court to remand the other accused person, noting that the state intends to appeal the court’s decision.
Meanwhile, Justice Mahoney accordingly sentenced Sanna Fadera to twelve years imprisonment and admitted the three accused persons to bail in the sum of D100.000 with one Gambian surety.