By Sanna camara
Principal Magistrate Dayoh M. Small Dago of the Brikama Magistrate’s Court has today acquitted and discharged 14 militants of the United Democratic Party (UDP), arguing that the accused persons have no case to answer, Gambia Beat can reveal.
This follows a “no case to answer” submission made by the defense attorney Ousainou Darboe during the last sitting. Famiies of the 14 accused persons and party symapthisers today celebrated in joy, as the verdict was delivered by the fully packed court room in Brikama.
The 14, including 2 women, have been facing charges of unlawful assembly and prohibition of conduct conducive to a breach of peace. They are Lamin Marong, Lamin Sonko, Foday Gassama, Maimuna Darboe, Ousman Drammeh, Sherrif Kinteh, Jerreh Fatty, Fakebba Colley, Sirreh Sonko, Bakary Gibbba, Wandifa Kinteh, Kawsu Jaiteh, Yaya Njai, and Lamin Njai. however, they all denied the charges levied against them by the Police.
At the last hearing, Mr. darboe said he was inviting the court “to acquit and discharge the accused persons on the two-count charge before the court.” The prosecution had called six witnesses in support of the charges. However, Darboe maintained that there was no element in support of the offences charged.
Regarding count two, Mr. Darboe said the accused persons were gathered on a private property which was not a public place, and the alkalo confirmed that the property belonged to one Zakaria.
Lawyer Darboe said none of the witnesses stated seeing any bad behaviour from the accused persons, and that what Foday Gassama (an accused person) said, that “UDP members should not be afraid to show that they belong to the party”, was his constitutional right.
About count one, which was unlawful assembly, Darboe said there was nowhere in the definition of “unlawful assembly”, that when there was no permit granted, it was unlawful. He further argued that the crucial element was that, “you must assemble with intent to commit an offence”. Counsel added that there was nothing wrong with members of a registered political party holding a meeting in a private property.
“I am not sure if the law had changed, but the constitution guarantees freedom of assembly,” argued Darboe, noting that if the accused persons were criminals, they would have run away, but would not have reported to the police station.
He therefore urged to court to acquit and discharge the accused persons. This the Magistrate did today.