Breaking News:Magistrate Jawo says his court have all powers to try journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh! Trial proper kicks-off today!
By Our Chief National Correspondent Landing Badjie

The high profile sedition charges brought against the US based journalist, cum political activist Fatou Jaw Manneh took a dramatic twist Wednesday, when the presiding magistrate Buba  Jawo ruled that his court have the jurisdiction to hear the said case. Attempts made by his lawyer Lamin Jobarteh to dispute the legality of the court’s jurisdiction to preside over such a politically motivated case beared no fruits. The court upheld the state’s argument that the case in question could be tried by the Gambian courts. Magistrate Jawo, addressing a packed court room,cited various provisions of the Criminal Code, which he says gave his court the full mandate not only to hear the case, but also to pass judgement on the criminal case “the state versus Fatou Jaw Manneh.” The magistrate therefore rules that the trial proper would commenced today Thursday, with the state expected to line up its list of witnesses. Freedom Newspaper National Chief Correspondent Landing Badjie was in court Wednesday and he now files this report.
The case of  journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh is set for hearing tomorrow following a ruling by a magistrates’ court this afternoon that the lawcourts in The Gambia have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

It would be recalled that Ms Manneh was earlier this month arraigned at the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court where she denied responsibility for publishing an aticle, deemed seditious by the State, on the  internet  Following  her  denial of the three-count charges levelled against her by the State, Madam Manneh’s solicitor at length argued that the charges against his client should be dropped as the court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
At today’s sitting, presided over by magistrate Buba Jawo, defense counsel Jobarteh buttressed his earlier points that his client cannot be tried on the Gambian soil because assuming without conceding that an offence was indeed committed then it must have been committed in the US and not The Gambia.
“Your Worship, this honourable court has not jurisdiction to hear this case Section 110 of the Criminal Procedure Code clearly indicates that an offence committed outside the jurisdiction of a local area cannot be tried in another local area unless when the offence committed has a ripple effect on another local area But can my learned friend tell me whether the alleged offence committed by the accused have had any effect in The Gambia? Is he also telling me that  The  Gambia has  a jurisdiction  over  the United  States  of  America,”  he  argued
Jobarteh also pointed out that the duplicity of the charges, its defects in form and procedure and lack of reasonable details to bolter them up were all the more reasons the court should strike out the case and immediately
” As per sections 110, 52 and 53, there must be enough of information to back up one’s case but this was not the case in this case To whom was the interview granted and which site And according to these relevant sections if at all there is any uncertainty due to lack of sufficient information, the matter must be refferred to the high court for clarification,” asserted counsel Jobarteh
But in his submission, the newly-acquired state counsel in the person of the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Emmanuel Fagbenle counter-argued that considering the universality of the internet, it can be said with ease that the offence was committed in The Gambia He pointed out that things posted on the internet are for consumption on a world-scale and therefore the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case He pointed out that there was no defect in the charge sheet that can render it invalid.
According to the DPP, the defense counsel should not have in the first place allow his client to enter a plea” The accused’s plea of not guilty meant two things;She did not either commit the offences or she committed them with some intentions I would therefore urged this honourable court to overrule my learned friend’s objection to the charges,” the DPP added in his succinct submission.
In his ruling, magistrate Jawo pointed out that no defect can invalidate the charge sheet and that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case,making reference to  certain sections of the CPC .
The case resumes tomorrow for hearing.
Meanwhile, Ms Manneh, who was dressed in a blue African dress, could be seen, at the end of the case, exchanging greetings with sympathisers, including politicians, journalists, relatives and friends who have turned out in their numbers to witness the case.

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Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2007 (Archive on Monday, April 30, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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