Pending the outcome of the ongoing investigations, 37 youths will be remanded at mile2 central prison until October. A court trial at the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday referred the famous case of activist and rapper Killa Ace and 36 others to the Criminal Division of the High Court of the Gambia. The presiding Magistrate Elizabeth Dunn made the decision following an application by the prosecutor on the matter to be transferred to the High Court as she lacks the jurisdiction to proceed with the case at the Kanifing magistrate’s court.
It could be recalled that in late July this year, Serrekunda market vendors staged a mass demonstration under the theme “Say No to Police Brutality” following the untimely demise of a vendor, Ousman Darboe, a Sierra Leonean who was held by the personnel of the Anti Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force. They said that the 36-year-old, Ousman Darboe, a resident of Dippa Kunda who owned a shop at Serrekunda market alleged that the death of their colleague was as a result of cruelty he went through from officers of the Anti-Crime Unit while in detention.
This prompted a mass demonstration by the vendors, youth and activities in Serrekunda market surrounding, Bakoteh police station and the burning down of the Anti Crime Unite commander Gorgi Mboob compound. As a result, this prompted the police to mount a mass arrest of the 37 youth for their alleged involvement in these activities.
Hundreds of youths including activists, wives, passersby, mothers, and relatives on took to the streets of the Kanifing magistrate court to show solidarity with Killa Ace and 36 other youth who are standing trails on 8 counts. They are charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, unlawful assembly, the prohibition of conduct conducive to breaches of the peace, 2 counts of arson, 2 counts of rioters demolishing building and riotously injuring machinery. The 37 accused persons include 3 Sierra Leoneans, 3 Guineans, 2 Senegalese and 29 Gambians including Executive members of the Boka Lokho Association of the Serrekunda Market.
Heavily armed security men from the Police Intervention Unit with protective gears and prison officers were heavily dispatched to the grounds of the court premises and surrounding. This according to them is meant to secure and control the ground.
Upon the arrival of the accused persons who were also under heavy security escort in three sealed prison vans, reactions from the public started with chansons condemning the remanding of the youths and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the 37 youth. As some forced themselves into the premises of the court, push and pulls erupted between the security men and the sympathizers. The prominent among the suspects, Killa Ace was seen in cuff by the police while he was been taken to Mile 2.
Most of the youth and activities reactions were based on the ground that the state has no evidence to hold these youth and that if not release; a nationwide protest will be stage. According to them, these show how the barrow government has changed from the new Gambia to the style of Jammeh, that they will not rest until the state realized that the youth rights are not suppressed. Most of them expressed their disaffection and trust in the Gambia’s judicial system. They called on the IGP and the state to respect the verdict of the youth and release them immediately.