Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Defence calls for expunge of charges against Richards

The former High Court Judge is standing trial on sedition and false information

Defence counsels Surahata B. Janneh, Antouman Gaye and Pap Cheyassin Secka has urged a lower court to expunge charges brought against Moses Richards, who is standing trial on sedition and false information.

The defence told the Banjul Magistrate Court presided by Alagbe Taiwo Ade that the charges be struck-out. “They are bad in law and constitute an abuse of the process of the others.” The leading council Surahata Janneh said on 22nd February 2011.

Surahata B. Janneh submits that both should be struck out and the prosecution has indicated they do not need a notice for their objection.
He argues that the charges are bad in law due to the fact that they fail to show important details and there is an untruth in the charges. He refers the court to section 24 (b) of the constitution and section 110 of the criminal procedure code (CPC), and noted that the particulars that appear in the charge should be cleared so that the accused person can understand the nature of the offence charged.
In all democratic countries, a legal practitioner, solicitor, and a barrister at law are privileges and the accused person’s letter to the Sheriff based on his client’s instruction is a privilege, he said.
He also cited an English authority; Russell said a communication made by a solicitor on behalf of his clients through a third party in the interest of his clients is privilege, and therefore the letter written by Moses Richards is privilege under Gambia law.
This authority on Russell and Prime is a necessary to Barristers and legal practitioners to perform their duties without fear or favor or ill will and in accordance with the ethics and code of conduct of the bar and as well as the expectation of every right thinking members of the Gambia to know that it is necessary for lawyers to do their work without fear of the prosecution.
State Counsel Daniel O. Kulo said the issue of jurisdiction is a fundamental issue because it is the bedrock of the case. He refers the court to the Volume 10 Laws of England, understanding the concept of jurisdiction.
He said the Bar Association has drafted a law of code of conduct for legal practitioners in the Gambia, but it is yet to be assent to by the National Assembly, however, he said even though it is not assented to, it is still in operation.
He said rule 12 of the code of conduct for legal practitioners’ deals with honesty and commitment but does not give a blanket authority without limitation.  He said an objection of a charge shall be taken in the event that a charge is read to the accused person, arguing that the defence’s objection has come too little too late.
“The charge before the court contains no falsehood and is inline with section 110 of the CPC. The authorities cited by the defence urging the court not to entertain this matter because there is no crime called sedition are not applicable in the Gambia,” he said, urging the court to disallow the objection of the defence counsels. Case adjourned till 28th February 2011 at 10am for ruling and cross examination. Source: The Voice

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