Gambia: Journalists freed of ‘conspiracy’ and ‘false publication’

10 Nov
MESSAGE: Protect Journalists, Promote Professionalism, Support Media Development (Photo Credit: MSJoof/Globe/FPI)

MESSAGE: Protect Journalists, Promote Professionalism, Support Media Development (Photo Credit: MSJoof/Globe/FPI)

By Modou S. Joof

The lower court in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, Monday acquitted and discharged a newspaper editor and freelance journalist on two counts of “conspiracy to commit misdemeanor” and “false publication.”

Musa S. Sheriff, Editor-In-Chief of The Voice newspaper and Sainey M.K. Marenah, a freelance journalist were being tried over a political defections article that indicated “19 green youths [supporters of the ruling party] join the opposition UDP [United Democratic Party” on November 30, 2013.

They were arrested on January 13, 2014, detained beyond the legal limit of 72 hours and put on trial on January 16. They maintained their not guilty plea.

On November 10, Magistrate Jackline Nixon Hakim of the Banjul Magistrate’s Court freed Mr. Sheriff and Mr. Marenah when their lawyer submitted that the journalists have no case to answer.

“Going by the dictate [of the law], I am of the view that the prosecution have failed to prove the essential ingredients of the offence on both counts as required by law,” she ruled.

“As such, on the authority of The State v. Mamburay Njie, I shall hereby acquit and discharge the accused persons on all the two counts,” Magistrate Hakim added.

She said: “…the prosecution has also failed to meet the minimum benchmark required for the accused persons to enter their defence.

“The prosecution must advance cogent evidence worthy of believe by the court or any other court for that matter and the prosecution witnesses must not thoroughly be discredited under cross-examination.

“…this ‘no case to answer’ should be upheld because regardless of the eight prosecution witnesses called by the prosecution, they woefully failed to establish the ingredients of the offence.”

The case was last heard on October 13 when the defence and prosecution adopted their briefs.

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