By Amadou Jadama
Senior Magistrate Anna Mendy of Brikama has sentenced Lamin Sillah, Omar Faal and Sutay Marong to a mandatory jailed term of 15 years each for trafficking in persons to Europe.
The presiding magistrate also ordered the three to pay a fine of D50,000 each in default to serve another two years in prison and that the sentences should run consecutively.
She further ordered that court exhibits including a boat engine and 29 life jackets should be forfeited to the state.
The three were arraigned earlier last month and charged with a single count of acting as intermediaries for the purpose of trafficking.
They all pleaded guilty to the charge when the case was called and were unrepresented by a lawyer.
They were eventually found guilty of receiving monies from people for the purpose of facilitating their travel to the Canary Islands in Spain.
Before the sentencing was passed on them, the convicts begged the court to temper justice with mercy saying that they were all family members and urged the court not to impose on them custodial sentence.
In passing her sentence, Magistrate Mendy noted: “I have relied on Section 31 (4), and Section 9 (5) of the Criminal Code, and the strength of my discretionary powers is not in dispute. However, and unfortunately the trafficking in persons Act has been restructured as such.”
The presiding magistrate further told the court that the effect of illegal migration on our communities is a growing concern as most Gambian youths are embarking on the deadly journey to Europe, and as a result, there is a need to clamp down on those facilitating the perilous journeys.
“Mindful of the fact that the convicts are first time offenders, I am tempted not to give these guys a heavy sentence. I will sentence you all with the statutory minimum. I hereby sentence you Lamin Sillah, Omar Faal and Sutay Marong to a fine of D50,000 each in default to serve two years in prison in addition to a term of imprisonment of 15 years each and the sentences shall run consecutively. Exhibit A, a boat engine and Exhibit B, 29 life jackets, shall be forfeited to the state. The right to appeal is your constitutional rights,” she declared.
According to Supt Bakary Njie, the prosecuting officer for the Gambia Immigration Department, the victims are from Sierra Leone, Senegal and The Gambia.
He told the court that on 9 June 2021 between 9pm and 11pm at Gunjur and diverse places within the West Coast Region, they had a tip-off that a boat was about to set sail for the Canary Islands in Spain and acting in concert with personnel of sister forces, they sprung into action.
“The first suspect to be arrested was Lamin Sillah, who led the officers to the arrest of Omar Faal and Sutay Marong. They later took the officers to the compound where these [would be] migrants were converging. Upon arrival of the officers, some of the intending travellers started to run away and 37 were arrested and taken to the Tanji Immigration Unit where their statements were taken.”