Six women arrested on May 9th during a protest in solidarity with the detained opposition United Democratic Party leader Ousainou Darboe, party executives and other members, were Thursday granted bail by the Kanifing Magistrate court presided over by Magistrate Abeke after pleading not guilty.

The woean: Isatou Saidy, Sukai Dahaba, Kaddy Samateh, Fatoumata Sarr, Amie Touray and Lele Bojang, are familiar faces in the ongoing ‘Kalamaa Revolution’ against the repressive regime of President Yahya Jammeh. They were granted bail in the sum of D20,000 with a Gambian surety each, who swore to an affidavit of means and surrendered their national identification cards as well give their proper addresses to the registrar of the court.

Held liable for inciting violence and conspiracy

They are charged with seven counts of conspiracy, unlawful assembly, rioting, and incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, holding procession without a permit and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.

The refusal or delay in granting bail after 72 hours detention is in violation of their rights and laws of The Gambia. The charges are misdemeanor, bailable and conditions should not be excessive as clearly stipulated in Section 99, Sub-sections 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Peaceful protest.

The uprising in The Gambia began when members of the opposition United Democratic Party where arrested on April 14 during a peaceful protest at Westfield, demanding justice and electoral reforms. A dozen were arrested and detained by police and one of the protest leaders Solo Sandeng, the party’s organizing secretary was allegedly tortured to death under state custody.

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The death of Sandeng prompted calls by the UDP leader Ousainou Darboe for his release, dead or alive. Darboe and at least 30 others were arrested less a couple of hundred feet from the US Embassy while marching towards the capital Banjul in protest of Sandeng’s death. They were met with brute and excessive force by the paramilitary police.

Prepared to proceed with the case.

S.K. Jobe who is representing the state in the case reminded the court of new and proper charges levied against the accused, superseding the previous charges filed. State Counsel Jobe told the court that they were fully prepared to proceed with the case; that the accused persons should take their plea on the new charges.

In reply, Lawyer Mendy who led the defense team comprising of counsels Haddy Daneh Jabbie, Sagarr Jahateh, Lubna Farage, F. Mahoney and Yassin Senghore applied for the previous charges be struck out. Magistrate Abeke then ruled that since the prosecution has confirmed filing their proper charges now, the case should progress and called on the accused persons to take their pleas accordingly.

Detainees held incommunicado complained the defense

Attorney Mendy informed the court that the women were not accessible to them and were held incommunicado. All attempts to talk to their clients since their arrest were denied. The defense advised that they should not be denied access to their clients adding they are only able to see and speak to them in court. The defense has urged the court to issue an order for the security to allow the defense counsels access to their clients especially when in need.

State Counsel S.K. Jobe who showed no opposition to the bail, urged the court to give them only ten minutes to meet and talk to their client’s provided that progress will be made after meeting them.

The magistrate then stood down the case during which the defense team had the chance to talk to their clients. When the case resumed, all the accused persons took a not guilty plea and since the State Counsel did not oppose the bail application, Magistrate Abeke granted them all bail accordingly.