By Lamin Ceesay
An opposition leader in the Gambia who was arrested last Saturday for taking part in an ‘unauthorised’ protest against the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, was this afternoon charged in court and remanded in prison.
Ousainou Darboe of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and 18 party supporters, are slapped with multiple counts of offences including unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
State prosecutors have informed the court that investigations against the UDP leadership and supporters are ongoing.
They urged the court to remand all the accused persons in prison until they have finished with their investigations.
The prosecution expressed fears that the accused persons would interfere with their investigations or with prosecution witnesses if they are released on bail.
This was rejected by Antouman Gaye, defence lawyer for the accused.
Mr Gaye said the offences his clients have been charged with are bailable ones under Gambian law and it would be and infringement of their rights if they are denied bail.
He reminded the court that his clients have been held in detention well beyond the constitutionally stipulated 72-hours.
While not overruling the defence lawyer, the presiding judge advised him to make a formal bail application instead of an oral one.
The case continues on Thursday.