Trial of arrested radio journalist begins tomorrow

Alagie Ceesay

The sedition trial involving a 25-year old radio journalist, Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, is expected to commence before a high court judge in Banjul tomorrow after his defense lawyer’s application for adjournment was granted by the court.

When the case was mentioned today morning, the state chief prosecutor, Hadi Saleh Barkun announced his representation for the state while barrister Combeh Gaye Coker pronounced her appearance for the accused.

The case has failed to proceed when the counsel for the accused applied for the prosecution to furnish her with the necessary documents which includes the list of witness statements and exhibits the state has obtained against his client.

Lawyer Coker reminded the court that her application was in pursuance of section 24 subsection {3} of the constitution which, she said, guaranteed the rights of the accused person to have adequate time and facility to prepare for his or her defense.

“My lord, providing the said materials to the defense will not prejudice the case of the prosecution. We do not want to be tried by ambush rather we want to prepare for our defense,” lawyer Gaye said, citing section 175{C} Subsection 3 of the criminal procedure code.

Reacting to counsel application, the director of public prosecution, SH Barkun, urged the court to reject the defense’s application.

He said: “It is not mandatory for the prosecution to furnish the defense with certain documents in order to build their case. The sections cited by the defense are not necessary and applicable at this point. Counsel should have done this application earlier during the previous sitting but she failed to do so until she wait when the case is mentioned today. My lord, we may not know where the defense want to build it case unless if we are told. To avoid wasting the time of the court, we have our witness in court and subject to the convenience of the court we are ready to proceed.”

Meanwhile after listening to both parties, the presiding judge ordered for the state to furnish the defense with the said necessary documents before adjourning the matter to tomorrow for the commencement of the trial.

Mr Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay is the managing director of Sinchu Alagie-based community radio, Taranga FM.

He was dragged to court on August 4 on a charge of seditious intention for allegedly distributing pictures showing a gun pointed at President Yahya Jammeh.

The state prosecutors alleged that Ceesay used his mobile phone and shared the picture with one Zainab Koneh and Fatou A Drammeh.

Mr Ceesay however denied any wrong doing but was denied bail by the lower court in Banjul.

Dissatisfied with the lower court verdict, his team of lawyer filed a motion at the high court seeking for his release on bail which was also dismissed by the superior court.

The new bill of indictment filed by the state chief prosecutor before the high court alleged in counts two, four and seven that Mr Ceesay had intent to excite disaffection against President Yahya Jammeh by distributing a seditious phrase which reads: “The sniper is hereby advices all citizens and non citizens to stay at their homes on Wednesday the 22nd of July, 2015 as our struggle to kick of the dog, begins that very day and we are capable of doing anything and it might start from the celebration ground. Please be at your homes for your safety Signed by sniper 3 {sic}.”

Counts one, three, five and six are similar to the initial charges for which he is being tried at the magistrate court in Banjul.

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