Magistrate disagrees, advices defence counsel to appear in court ‘on time’
By Sanna Camara
On the first day of the trial against opposition activist Lasana Jobareth, who is charged with broadcasting without license using skype, police prosecutors have filed for a motion to move the trial from an open court room to the magistrate’s chambers.
In a packed court room this morning, prosecutors say this is necessary to protect the identity and security of their star prosecution witness, who althougfh was not named but identified as a state security agent. He is said to be an operative of the National In telligence Agency (NIA).
‘Not an issue of security of the witness’
However, the magistrate disagrees with this motion, arguing that what is before the court is not an issue of security of the witness.
Magistrate Kijera, wearing black suit on a white long-sleeved shirt, said the case in question is not a matter of national security, and the application made by prosecution is not in conformity with the law.
Kijera therefore ruled that the case be heard in open court. However, after a brief search outside the court room premises, a member of the prosecution team arrived without any witness. They announced that they are left with the option of compelling him to appear by order of the law at the next sitting.
Lawyer Darboe was absent from court
In another twist to the matter, the defense counsel, opposition UDP leader, Ousainou Darboe, was also not in court to defend his client in the first day of the hearing. Standing in the dock wearing a brown Mbasange khaftan, the accused looked calm as the magistrate dispense the proceedings.
Despite asking another female counsel to hold brief for him, the magistrate refused to hear the case without the presence of the counsel. Apparently, the magiostarte had issues with the attitude of this female lawyer, whom he said did not treat the court with respect the last time she appeared before him.
“Heed my advice: ask your lawyer to be here on time next time, or look for an alternative representation,” he told the defendant Lasana Jiobartreh, before adjourning the case to next Tuesday.