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Alleged Coup Plotters Charged With 5 Counts Including Treason, Pleaded Not Guilty 

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Alleged Coup plotters arriving in court

By Landing Ceesay 

Four soldiers and one police officer accused of plotting to overthrow the government of President Adama Barrow have pleaded not guilty to the five-count bill of indictment filed against them by the state. 

Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera, Petty Officer, Gibril Darboe, Corporal Ebrima Sannoh, Corporal Omar Njie and Police Sub-Inspector Fabakary Jawara all pleaded not guilty to the four counts of treason; concealment of treason; conspiracy and inciting mutiny proffered against them.

Shortly before Justice B.V.P Mahoney, the High Court Judge presiding over the case read the charges for the accused persons to take their plea, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, AM Yusuf, representing the State in the case, informed the Court that the Attorney General consented to the Prosecution of the accused persons. 

The State said that the Prosecution of the four soldiers and Police Officer is consented to by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Hon. Dawda A. Jallow Pursuant to Section 39 of the Criminal Code Cap 10- D1 Vol 3 of Laws of the Gambia 2009. 

“I DAWDA A JALLOW, the Honourable Attorney General of the Republic of the Gambia do hereby give fiat to the prosecuting counsel of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to prosecute L./Cpl Sanna Fadera, P/O Gibril Darboe, Cpl Ebrima Sanno, Cpl Omar Njie and S/I Fabakary Jawara for the offences of treason and concealment of treason contrary to sections 35 and 36 of Criminal Code Act cap 10:01 Vol. 3 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009,” the Consent letter from of the Office of the Attorney General. 

Count 1 of the charges; Treason contrary to section 35(1) (a) of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01 Vol 3 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009. 

The Particulars of the Offence: The Prosecutors alleged that L/Cpl Sanna Fadera, P/O Gibril Darboe, Cpl Ebrima Sannoh, S/I Fabakary Jawara and Lamin Jadama (now at large) during the year 2022 at Kafuta village and diverse places in the Gambia within the Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court prepared audio endeavoured to overthrow the Government of the Gambia by unlawful means and thereby committed an offence. 

Count 2 of the charges; Treason contrary to section 35 (1) (g) of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01 Vol.3 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009.

The Particulars of the Offence; the Prosecutors alleged that L/Cpl Sanna Fadera, P/O Gibril Darboe, Cpl Ebrima Sannoh, S/I Fabakary Jawara and Lamin Jadama (now at large) during the year 2022 at diverse places in the Gambia within the Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court agreed amongst themselves to overthrow the Government of the Gambia and thereby committed an offence. 

Count 3 of the charges; Concealment of treason contrary to section 36 (a) of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01 Vol 3 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009. 

The Particulars of Offence: the Prosecutors alleged that P/O Gibril Darboe, Cpl Ebrima Sannoh, Cpl Omar Njie and S/I Fabakary Jawara during the year 2022 at diverse places in the Gambia within the Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court knowing that one L/Cpl Sanna Fadera intend to commit treason to wit you failed to report it to a Minister, or a Magistrate or police officer or a member of the Armed Forces and thereby committed an offence.

Count 4 of the charges: Concealment of treason contrary to section 36 (b) of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01 Vol.3 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009. 

The Particulars of Offence; P/O Gibril Darboe, Cpl Ebrima Sanno, Cpl Omar Njie during the year 2022 at diverse places in the Gambia within the Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court knowing that one L/Cpl Sanna Fadera intend to commit treason to wit you did not use other reasonable effort to prevent the commission of the offence and thereby committed an offence.

Count 5 of the charges; Inciting to mutiny contrary to section 40 (c) of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01 Vol.3 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009.

The Particulars of the Offence; L/Cpl Sanna Fadera during the year 2022 at diverse places in the Gambia within the Jurisdiction of the Honourable Court attempted to incite one SGT Karamo Jatta, and one Cpt. Mamat Jobe to commit an act of mutiny and thereby committed an offence.

While Justice Mahoney was calling the accused persons after the order to read the charges for them to plea, his attention was called to the spelling of the surname of the 3rd accused person.

Counsel J. Jobarteh, representing the 3rd accused person, told the Court that the surname that is written on the charge sheet is not the correct spelling of his client’s surname. Counsel Jobarteh told the Court that his client’s surname is spelled Sannoh instead of Sanno on the charge sheet. Responding to counsel Jobarteh’s submission, AM Yusuf, Counsel for the State, said the issue raised by Counsel Jobarteh is not fundamental, submitting that the correct spelling of the surname is just a matter of choice. 

Counsel Jobarteh filed an oral application that his client should be discharged because he will not answer to the name that he is not.  He asked the state to go and find the Ebrima Sanno they wrote on the charge sheet because that is not the correct spelling of his client’s surname. 

Counsel AM Yusuf for the State told the court that it is “very unfortunate” that Counsel Jobarteh for the 3rd accused person will file such an application, saying the 3rd accused person did not show them any official document that indicated the correct spelling of his surname. The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution challenged Counsel Jobarteh to take the Holy Quran and swear that the Ebrima Sanno on the Charge sheet is not his client. 

When Justice Mahoney asked the 3rd accused person the correct spelling of his surname, he said “Sannoh.” On the charge sheet, it is spelled as “Sanno.” 

Justice Mahoney ordered the State Counsel to make an oral application for the amendment of the 3rd accused person’s name. Counsel AM Yusuf obliged and made the oral application for the correct spelling of the accused person’s surname. The application was granted by the judge, and the 3rd accused person’s surname was subsequently changed from Sanno to Sannoh. 

Once those oral applications were adjudicated, Justice B.V.P Mahoney read the charges before the accused persons, one after the other. All of them pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them. 

Shortly after the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges, Counsel L.S Camara, lawyer for the 1st and 5th accused told the court that the case cannot proceed because the State did not serve the defence exhibits that they intended to rely on during the trial. He pointed out that the entire bill of indictment against the accused persons did not have any witness statements and insisted that the defence should be given every witness statement and every exhibit that the state intended to rely on during the trial. 

Counsel AM Yusuf for the State in response to Counsel L.S Camara’s submission said it is not a force for the defence to be served with every witness statement and every exhibit they would be relying on during the trial. He stated that the constitution guaranteed for the prosecution to serve the accused persons the exhibits they would be relying on during the trial, however, the defence, he posited, should request for them to be served with the exhibits and witness statements, but not demand it. 

Justice Mahoney ordered the State to serve the defence copies of all the necessary documents they intend to rely on during the trial. The State agrees to serve the defence on Monday 6th of February 2023. 

Lawyers LS Camara, K. Jallow, and C. Mendy represented the 1st and 5th accused persons. Lawyers Y. Darboe and L. Darboe represented the 2nd accused.  Lawyer J. Jobarteh represented the 3rd accused person. 

Corporal Omar Njie, who was not represented during the last adjourned date, was represented by Lawyers B. Badjie, F.S Jammeh, and M.L Ceesay. 

Justice Mahoney adjourned the case to the 8th of February 2023 at 12 noon. 

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