By Amadou Jadama
The Kanifing Magistrates’ Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Omar Jabang yesterday granted bail to 34 remanded youths from Bakau in the sum of D250,000 each with two Gambian sureties in the like sum.
The men are initially charged with seven counts but yesterday, one more count was added, making it a total of eight.
The charges include conspiracy to commit felony, preventing or obstructing the making of a proclamation, rioters injuring buildings, machinery etc, threatening violence, common nuisance, idle and disorderly behavior, and rioting after proclamation.
They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were remanded but their lawyer applied for bail which was opposed by prosecuting officer Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh.
However, Magistrate Jabang dismissed the prosecution’s argument that investigations are still ongoing and that the accused persons may interfere with their witnesses. “If investigations are ongoing, I don’t think the accused persons will be charged to court,” the magistrate said.
He further observed a charge presupposes that all investigations are done.
“If investigations are not done, leave by way of a formal application must be sought from a court of competent jurisdiction to allow the continuous detention of an accused pending investigation. This could be done by way of a summon and same be subjected to a periodic review to avail the court the chance to see if the circumstances warranting the continuous detention of the accused are valid or not.
This is in line with the international best practices and standards and ran as a safeguard against arbitrary detention. In fact, if I should refuse bail because investigations are still ongoing, I will ask until when? This is not clear to the court and I cannot conjecture as a court of law is not a speculative forum,” he said.
The presiding magistrate finally granted bail to all the accused persons and ordered that they should keep peace, pending the hearing and determination of the case. He warned them that failure to abide by which shall lead to the revocation of their bail.
The case was adjourned to 27 December.