By Amadou Jadama
A crowd of supporters of the chairman of Brikama Area Council Yankuba Darboe trooped to the Banjul magistrates’ court premises to express solidarity with him as he came to continue to face charges of sedition yesterday.
The supporters carried banners and symbols accusing the state of targeting the chairman for political reasons. As tension mounts with the arrival of Chairman Darboe, a huge commotion erupted in which the police fired tear gas.
Mr Darboe, a member of the opposition UDP, is standing trial on two counts of sedition and the use of abusive language in public. His supporters said the case is politically motivated.
At yesterday’s sittings, his legal team headed by Lawyer Lamin S Camara submitted that the accused is not comfortable with Magistrate ML Thomas’s handling of the case, as he has already made a determination of the entire trial in the ”No case to Answer” ruling.
Lawyer Camara said his client also believed that the court has already predetermined the outcome of the trial without hearing his defence.
“Having pre-determined the matter at this stage, this court cannot be seen to be impartial in this matter anymore and it is therefore in the interest of justice for you to recuse yourself from this matter. I do not have confidence in this court anymore as it has already pronounced that the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant a conviction”, Darboe’s lawyer told Magistrate Thomas.
He added that the court had made a consideration on contempt of court charge which is not before the court.
Lawyer Camara further submitted that the court has overreached the issues for determination before it at this juncture and that the ruling delivered in the “No case to Answer” submission amounts to final judgment in the matter. He said in the light of these serious pronouncements on the threshold of proof, the court has the powers to grant his application.
Counsel L S Camara also urged the court to stay the hearing and determination of the charges preferred against his client pending the hearing and determination of the appeal at the High Court.
Police prosecutor Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh did not object to the motion filed by the defense.
The trial magistrate Thomas adjourned the matter to 25 September for ruling on the defense’s motion.