A Gambian magistrate court has sentenced five Senegalese Customs Officers accused of arm possession and trespassing into the Gambia, each 18 months imprisonment. Handing down his verdict today before a packed court room, Magistrate Pa Harry Jammeh said the prosecution had proven its case beyond all reasonable doubt. Magistrate Jammeh describes the actions of the convicts as a threat to national security and therefore observes that the accused persons deserve such long prison terms. The five Senegalese convicts Seydou Ngom, Pape Drame, Seydou Thiam, Youssou Diop and Aliou Thiam would served  about two years behind bars with hard labor according to the magistrate’s ruling. “You are nothing but a bunch of bandits and criminals bent on causing havoc into the Gambia. This will serve as a deterrent to others.” said Magistrate Jammeh. The convicts were arrested earlier last year in the Gambian sea waters, while they were traveling onboard  a marine boat.

The prosecution during the trial tendered confiscated AK 47 rifles which were seized from the accused persons. The prosecution in a court deposition maintains that the convicts were posed to undermine the country’s fragile peace and stability. They also denounced the accused’s open trespass into the Gambian territory without the authorities expressed permission.

The accused persons were given the chance to plea for mitigation, but their pleas never impressed the presiding magistrate Pa Harry Jammeh. Mr.Jammeh deplores the actions of the accused persons and therefore said it was about time to set an example. He ordered the accused persons to serve 18 month jail term each, following which they would be deported to their native home country Senegal.

Meanwhile, lawyer for the convicts Antouman Gaye says he is going to contest magistrate Jammeh’s judgment. Gaye believes the judgment was one for “miscarriage of justice.” Gaye believes the magistrates erred in his decision. He is currently working on filing an appeal to The Gambia court of  Appeal on behalf of his clients to overturn Jammeh’s verdict.

Relationship between the Gambia and Senegal soured in the recent past following allegations that the administration of President Wade were supporting Gambian soldiers led by Colonel Ndure Cham to unseat President Jammeh. Dakar has dismissed the allegations.

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