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Court Orders Kumba Sinyan To Present Defense After Mental Health Evaluation

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Kumba Sinyan arriving in Court

By Landing Ceesay 

Honorable Justice Sidi K. Jobarteh of the High Court of the Gambia, has ordered Kumba Sinyan, who stands accused of murdering her fiancé, to present her defense. This decision follows an evaluation of her mental well-being conducted by the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH).

Kumba Sinyan, a budding entrepreneur, is facing a single charge of murder under Section 187 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Gambia 2009. The prosecution alleges that on September 14, 2022, at The Friendship Hostel in Bakau, Sinyan intentionally caused the death of Lamarana Jallow by inflicting a fatal injury to his abdomen, an offense punishable by death under Section 188 of the Criminal Code.

On May 13, 2024, Counsel Sagar, representing Kumba Sinyan, filed a motion requesting the court to reconsider its order issued on April 24, 2024. The order lacked clarity regarding Sinyan’s request to assess her client’s mental and psychological state.

Counsel Sagar supplemented the motion with additional affidavits on May 14 and June 31, 2024, along with supporting documentation. However, Counsel Mammy Sanyang, representing the state, objected to the application, citing relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Act.

Arguing against the objection, Counsel Sagar contended that the cited provisions were not applicable in this case and urged the court to grant their application in the pursuit of justice and a fair hearing.

Following deliberation, Honorable Justice Jobarteh dismissed Counsel Sagar’s application and directed Kumba Sinyan to proceed with presenting her defense.

“To determine the application before the Court, the question I ask is whether the Court should review its order made on the 24th of April 2024. The order of the Court made on the 24th of April 2024 is in respect to the application made by Counsel to the accused for the accused to be mentally examined to see if she is fit for trial,” Hon. Justice Jobarteh said. 

Hon. Justice Jobarteh said the order of the Court was directed to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, to medically examine Kumba Sinyan to ascertain if she is fit for trial. 

“On a subsequent adjourned date, when the Court did not receive a Medical Report from Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, it made a follow-up order requesting for the Mental Assessment of the Accused (Kumba Sinyan) to be done, and a report sent to the Court before the next adjourned date. A Medical Report dated 20th May 2024 was prepared by Dr. Martha Hernandez of Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, a psychiatric Consultant, and submitted to the Court.

“The first paragraph of the report reads that the Accused: “was referred from the Court of the Gambia for Medical Examination on her mental health before the next adjourned date”. The Medical Report before the Court is in respect to the mental health of the Accused as requested by the defence and as directed by the Court,” Hon. Justice Jobarteh said. 

Counsel Sagar argued that, their Application is premised on the psychological aspect and not psychiatric status of her client (Kumba Sinyan).

However, Hon. Justice Jobarteh ruled that psychological and psychiatric are all one and the same. 

“It is my view that, psychological and psychiatric all have to do with the mind and affect the mental status of the Accused (Kumba Sinyan). The Court hereby relies on the Medical Report of the Accused from Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, and I shall go by its recommendations. After considering the submissions on both sides and after going through the processes before the Court, I hold that the Application lacks merit, and it has been overtaken by events. The Application is accordingly dismissed,” Hon. Justice Jobarteh struck out Counsel Sagar’s application. 

Hon. Justice Jobarteh expressed satisfaction of the Medical Report provided to the court by Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. 

“l am satisfied that the Accused (Kumba Sinyan) going by the Medical Report before the Court is fit for trial and I call upon her to enter her defence. I further order as recommended by the Report, for the Accused (Kumba Sinyan) to be taken to Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital on or before the 30th of every month for a follow-up on her medical assessment,” Hon. Justice Jobarteh ordered. 

Hon. Justice Jobarteh then adjourned the case to the 26th of June 2024 for Kumba Sinyan to open her defence. 

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