By Tabora Bojang
Former APRC parliamentarian for Banjul North, Abdoulie Saine, yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of incitement to violence and seditious intention before magistrate Tracy Davies-Wilson at Banjul.
Prosecutors say on 2 September Saine “unlawfully and with intent to incite violence and promote feelings of ill-will and hostility among classes of population of The Gambia recorded a Whatsapp audio uttering abusive and derogatory remarks against the entire Mandingo tribe, stating that the Mandingos are selfish, hypocritical and wicked”.
When the case resumed yesterday in a packed courtroom, Saine asked the court for an adjournment in the absence of his lawyer Moses Richards who he claimed was far off and could not make it to the court on time. He said all the documents relating to the charges were with his lawyer and he was not in “a good position” in clearly analysing the charge sheet to take a plea.
Police prosecutor Superintendent Mballow however urged the court to dismiss Saine’s arguments adding that the plea of guilt is a personal plea from the accused not his lawyer whom he claimed should have communicated his absence to the court.
The magistrate dismissed the claims citing that the court had not received any correspondence from the defence counsel as to why he failed to appear and therefore ordered that the trial proceed.
Consequently, the charge was read to the defendant who then said he was not guilty.
Superintendent Mballow however applied for an adjournment informing the court that the prosecution was not in position to proceed with the commencement of the trial especially count 2 on seditious intention. This he said requires a fiat (advice) from the AG’s Chambers.
“A case file has been sent to the AG and it is expediting and reviewing the entire case,” Mballow said.
Saine who was bailed for D150, 000 with two Gambian sureties, was warned with his close relatives and well-wishers to refrain from making any prejudicial statements on matters relating to the trial and charges against him. He is due in court on Thursday, 20 September.
Meanwhile a melee involving supporters of the APRC, Mr Saine’s well-wishers as well as members of a civil society organisation dubbed Foundation for Peace, Justice and National Development broke outside the courtroom.
The fight broke out as Saine walked out of the court accompanied by a group of his party supporters, family members and security personnel of the party.
An eyewitness told The Standard the incident was due to derogatory remarks uttered towards the APRC national mobiliser, Yankuba Colley as he was leaving the court.
However, the assistant secretary of the protesting foundation, Assiatou Jallow, said they were at the court to advocate for justice and peace and an end to bigotry in new Gambia.