Magistrate firm on 72-hour detention

Friday, July 18, 2008
Magistrate Ayoub John Njie of the Brikama Magistrates Court has told police prosecutors that any accused person detained for more than 72 hours and arraigned before him will be acquitted.

Magistrate Njie observed that the act of keeping an accused person under custody for more than three days is not supported by the Constitution.

Magistrate Njie made these statements last week while presiding over an alleged theft trial against one Amadou Kah, who is believed to be in his 50s.

The accused, Mr Kah, was charged under Section 297 of the Criminal Code, Cap 10 Volume III, Laws of The Gambia, after he was found in possession of two goats, which were suspected to have been stolen or unlawfully taken at Wellingara Village, Kombo North, on June 24. However, Mr Kah has denied the allegations levelled against him .

Addressing the court, the defence counsel, Lawyer Edu Gomez rebutted the charges against the accused person, noting that Mr Kah has been kept under police custody for seven days without being prosecuted nor granted bail.

He told the court that the accused person’s spouse had visited the Brikama Police Station to bail him but this was rejected for no apparent reason.

He then fumed at the continuous detention of his client, alleging that there is group of people at Wellingara who have been “manipulating” the police to deprive the accused person of his constitutional right to bail. Defence Counsel Gomez alluded to Section 19(5) of the Constitution to back his argument.

"I stand for justice and I also stand to assist the government for justice to prevail," he said.

Lawyer Gomez then applied under the quoted section of the Constitution for the accused to be granted bail, noting the offence is bailable and that the charge was only based on suspicion.

Magistrate Njie subsequently granted the bail application to the sum of D2,500, plus a Gambian surety.

At the conclusion of the sitting, Magistrate Njie urged the police to bring accused persons before the court within 72 hours after their arrest and warned that failure to do so would compel him to acquit any accused person brought before him.

The case was then adjourned to July 24 for continuation of the proceedings. Police Prosecutor 1320 Bojang, represented the IGP in the trial.

Author: by Amadou Jallow