by Alhagie Jobe
Dictator Yahya Jammeh’s hired mercenary judge at the Special Criminal Court has indicated in her judgment in the United Democratic Party members case that US citizen of Gambian origin, Fanta Darboe Jawara is convicted ‘because she refused to defend herself although there is no evidence against her’.
Justice Eunice Odada made the disclosure Wednesday, July 20 while delivering judgment in the case against opposition UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and 19 senior party member and supporters in which only one accused person was acquitted and discharged. Fanta and the rest are all sentenced to three years in prison.
“Fanta Darboe as a nurse could have defended herself and refused therefore I do not believe her. The 19 except Yahya Bah are convicted. Fanta Darboe is convicted because she refused to defend although no evidence against her” she highlighted.
Fanta Darboe Jawara was arrested since April 16th along with Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and others and charged with seven counts of unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license, disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession and conspiracy. The other accused persons were Ousainou Darboe, Kemeseng Jammeh, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta, Yaya Bah, Babucarr Camara, Fakebba Colley, Ismaila Ceesay, Momodou Fatty, Dodou Ceesay, Samba Kinteh, Mamudou Manneh, Nfamara Kuyateh, Lamin Njie, Jukuna Suso, Momodou L.K. Sanneh, Yaya Jammeh and Masanneh Lalo Jawla.
Justice Dada who denied the accused persons a chance to mitigate added: “The accused refused to participate therefore, it’s my view that they have no basis to participate and they will not be allowed to speak on the issue of sentencing”.
The state was represented by Director of Public Prosecution Hadi Saleh Barkum while the accused persons where defended by a team led by Senior Counsel A.A.B. Gaye along with A.N Bensouda, Hawa Sisay-Sabally, SM Tambadou, B.S. Touray, OMM Njie, Mary A. Samba, Rachel Y. Mendy, Neneh Cham, Musa Bachilly, Abdoulie Sissoho, Yasin Senghore, Hajum Gaye, M. Touray, Sagar Jahateh, and Dayoh Small stood in for the accused persons in the over three-month long trial.
Fanta Darboe Jawara of Frederick, Maryland, a wife and mother of two daughters ages 12 and 17, arrived in The Gambia to visit her family but was arrested for being in the right place, the city market, at the wrong time. She was arrested on Saturday, April 16th and imprisoned at the Mile II Central Prison in The Gambia as an onlooker during a protest for the release of Gambian political activist and opposition member Solo Sandeng, arrested on April 14th for leading a peaceful protest at Westfield calling for electoral reforms. He was arrested along with a dozen opposition members and was later pronounced dead after being tortured by state agents. The others sustained severe injuries and are now facing trial. Fanta Darboe Jawara, along with other bystanders were arrested as a result.