The British Couple David Borland Fulton and Fiona Racheal Fulton were yesterday sent to jail by the Banjul Magistrates' Court presided by Principal Magistrate Edrissa Mbai for seditious publication.
The couple were each convicted and sentenced to a fine of D250, 000 in default to serve one year and six months imprisonment. They where also given a mandatory jail term of one year imprisonment with hard labour. The court also ordered them to be deported to their country of origin after serving their sentence. Both sentences are to run concurrently.
The British convicts were said to have made seditious publication which was intended to excite hatred, contempt and disaffection against the president or the government of The Gambia.
In delivery his 28 page judgement, Principal Magistrate Edrissa Mbai stated that he found the seditious materials shocking, offensive and full of concoction. "The aim of these convicts can only be to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the president or the government of The Gambia," he stated."These two British convicts are without doubt the enemies whose real motive must be to destroy the peace, love and harmony that has co-existed between Muslims and Christians for generations in this country," he added. He said the convicts also aimed to give a negative image of the country they have been living in for nearly 10 years.
He said the British convicts have shown no respect for our Leader H.E the president, the government and the people of The Gambia. "In fact from 2007 and 2008 the convicts have jointly and individually sent through e-mail's and letters numerous materials which by all accounts are seditious in nature.
He quoted from an e- mail dated
According to the magistrate this shows that the convicts knew what they were doing would put them in trouble and lead to their deportation from the country. He quoted an e-mail sent by David Borland which stated there was an attempt at bring Sharia law into The Gambia and the trade was that 20 unregistered churches were closed down.
According to the magistrate, these are more then criticism, they are beyond the remit of freedom of expression. Another e-mail quoted by the magistrate stated, " I believe it is quite clear that there is a growing extremist element in the army and indeed in the country, I suggest that we arm the Muslims with sticks and the Christians with machine guns and let them fight. Hell in The Gambia "what is going on in this country was real bad, real bad. Never before have Fiona and I felt such a presence of evil and we are shocked to find opposition within the Christian community.
Another e-mail stated that there was an attempted coup. There are 37 men going through a court martial and these were last year. "It would be seem that as a Christian I am no longer allowed to tell a Muslim in the armed forces that they are going to hell and that Christian through faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and heaven. Another e-mail quoted by the magistrate stated that President Yahya Jammeh is telling everyone he has the cure for Aids many think he has gone mad, he will not tell anyone what the cure is. The e-mail further added that the army is very concerned, people are losing respect for their leader, adding that this country is the gate-way to west and north Africa and indeed is a battle going on for it and the power of darkness are being invoked by those in authorities at the moment.
Magistrate Mbai, in rounding up his judgement, stated that in this country, like any country, there were laws that one has to obey and where one fails to obey such laws one should be prepared to face the consequences. He said it is high time now that the security forces properly screen certain individuals before allowing them to stay here to the extent of allowing them unlimited access to the prison. He added that the offence is not only an offence against the Head of State, but against the government and the people of The Gambia.
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