By Amadou M Jadama
Justice Aminata Saho Ceesay, the Judge Advocate at the Court Martial at the Yundum Barracks in the trial of generals Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba, yesterday ordered the State to provide a lawyer for the two accused persons.
MB Abubakar, the State counsel said: “The offence which the accused persons charged carried a life sentence and under the constitution, they are entitled to be represented by a counsel of their choice,” he said.
In the previous proceedings, Justice Aminata Saho Ceesay dismissed the appeal made by defense counsel over the court martial’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Defense counsel for the accused persons captain Suwaibou Jammeh argued in his appeal that the court martial does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case because the generals should not be only considered as civilians but they are civilians.
Jammeh further argued that since the generals deserted the army, their salaries were stopped and when they were arrested all their military belongings were seized.
”The Army does not consider them as part of the military,” Jammeh said.
He added that considering all what transpired between the two generals and the Gambia Armed Forces, the court martial has no jurisdiction to try them because they are civilians and should be treated as such.
Ruling over the matter, the trial Judge dismissed the defense appeal. She further ruled that the two generals should be dressed in the military uniforms when appearing in court.
Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba are charged with desertion, after their return from Equatorial Guinea.
The case resumes on 23 May for the two generals to take their plea.