Kerr Fatou Online Media House
with focus on the Gambia and African News. Gambia Press Union 2021 TV Platform OF The Year

Paulo Djabi, Three Others Charged With 15 Counts Of Drug Offenses & Money Laundering

0 792
Paulo Djabi

By Landing Ceesay

The Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG) has charged Paulo Djabi, Nandine Pereira, Mamadu Djabi, and Secuna Jabi with 15 counts of drug-related offenses, including money laundering.

The prosecutors have accused Paulo Djabi and the other defendants of possessing prohibited drugs and a substantial amount of money, thus committing an offense.

The accused individuals appeared before Magistrate Jabang at the Kanifing Magistrates Court on Wednesday to respond to these charges.

Commissioner Ceesay, the Lead Prosecutor in the case, informed the court that the charges against the accused individuals were newly filed.

Lead defense Counsel L.S. Camara informed the court that his clients had not been served with the charge sheet. The prosecution then served the accused persons through their lawyers, L.S. Camara and K. Jallow.

Magistrate Jabang informed the court that he would give a five-minute stand down for the defense to go through the charge sheet, in the interest of justice.

After going through the charge sheet, Counsel LS Camara approached his clients for consultation on the charges leveled against them.

When the court resumed, the charges were read to the accused persons so that they could enter a plea to the prosecution of the charges brought against them. Both the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lead Prosecutor, Commissioner Ceesay, informed the court that the Prosecution was applying to have the matter transferred to the High Court of the Gambia under Section 2 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Finance Act.

“We further request for the accused persons to be under the custody of DLEAG pending the completion of the investigations,” Commissioner Ceesay told the court.

In response to the prosecution’s application, Counsel LS Camara objected to both of the prosecution’s requests. He argued that there is nothing in the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Finance Act that requires the matter to be tried in the High Court.

“Court needs to be very jealous in guiding their jurisdiction and only decline jurisdiction when there is specific ouster clause,” Counsel LS Camara told the court.

Counsel LS Camara emphasized that within the complete Anti-Money Laundering Act, there is no provision that excludes the jurisdiction of the court.

Counsel LS Camara argued that Economic Crimes and treason offenses are suitable for trial in the High Court.

Furthermore, Counsel LS Camara stressed that the Anti-Money Laundering Act does not contain any provisions that diminish the authority of the Magistrates Court.

“This is the reason I keep saying that this court has the jurisdiction to hear murder and rape cases except for treason and economic crimes. The punishment in the Anti-Money Laundering Act is not less than 10 years imprisonment. Does that sound like you are out of jurisdiction for this case, no it perfectly fits for the jurisdiction of the case,” Counsel LS Camara insisted.

On the prosecution’s request for the accused persons to remain in the custody of the DLEAG, Counsel LS Camara said no justification is advanced for the court to refuse bail for the accused persons.

“The accused persons are charged with 15 counts and none is punishable by life or death. The accused persons are entitled to bail. Your lordship, bail is a fundamental rights issue and courts do not refuse bail as a form of punishment,” he said.

Counsel LS Camara informed the court that the accused persons have been arrested and detained for 18 days, since August 27, 2023. He added that during this time, he was only granted access to them once. However, he was refused access to them last Thursday, September 7, 2023.

“On the 4th of September, they were arraigned before the Bundung Magistrates Court on a 7-count charge. An objection to the territorial jurisdiction of the court was raised on the bail application. On the 12th of September, the Bundung Magistrates Court declined the territorial jurisdiction and ordered for the transfer of the 7 counts charged to this court and further ordered for the accused persons to be granted bail. They were taken back into custody by DLEAG.

“Is the application to detain the accused persons in good faith? The DLEAG is in contempt of court order. We have substantive charges before this court, which indicates that investigations are concluded. The accused persons are not a flight risk. They have no plan to interfere in any investigation. They are ready to defend their names. The second accused person (Nandine Pereira) has a two-year-old baby and she has never been this far from her baby. I take cognizant of the fact that bail is the discretion of the court but I humbly and respectfully urge this court to grant the accused person bail,” Counsel Camara told the court.

Magistrate Jabang then adjourned the case to Thursday, September 14, at 12 p.m. for the ruling on the application.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.