A senior lawyer and Gambia’s former Justice Minister’s plea of mitigation has led to a Kanifing Magistrates’ Court to free one Lamin Ceesay, a football fan who pleaded guilty to one count charge of assaulting a referee at the Serekunda West Football Park.
Ceesay pleaded guilty to one count charge of assaulting a referee before Magistrate Hilary Abeke in which senior Lawyer Edu Gomez said football is full of uncontrollable excitement which in ordinary circumstance is not possible.
Mr Ceesay admitted committing an offence of hitting referee Mustapha Ndow on his head at the Serekunda West Football Park while he (Ndow) was officiating a football match between Serekunda West and Brikama Zonal Teams.
Lawyer Gomez recalled that Colombia were once out of the World Cup finals when one of their defenders, Pablo .S. Kaba turned round to pass the ball to his goalkeeper who was not in the position he expected. He said this became an own goal which puts Colombia out of the winning line.
He said the unfortunate saga revealed itself when the national team arrived in Colombia where one of the fans accosted Pablo and shut him to death with a gun.
Counsel Gomez further went on to narrate an African experience, saying it was once reported on BBC that a Kenyan fan of Arsenal Football Club committed suicide when Arsenal lost their game.
Lawyer Gomez told the court that the accused was trapped in an atmosphere of uncontrollable excitement causing him to commit the offence which, he said he would have not ordinarily done that. “The accused seems to be respectful, remorseful and has showed dignity and did waste the court’s time. I urged the court not to impose custodial sentence on this young man who is not known of having any criminal record,” the lawyer pleaded.
Magistrate Abeke then cautioned and discharged the accused person and ordered him to write an apology letter to the referee and copy to the Gambia’s international referee Papa Bakary Gassama. The court also awarded a cost of D1, 000 to the referee.
According to the facts narrated by the prosecutor Couple Ngum, in the 76th minute of the Serekunda West versus Brikama Zonal Teams game which the complainant Mustapha Ndow (Referee) and his panel members were officiating, the Brikama team scored their second goal which created a tension as the entire technical team of Serekunda West attacked the assistant referee claiming that the goal was an off sight.
The prosecutor said the referee later expelled some of the team’s players and while waiting for the matter to be settled, the accused entered the football pitch and hit the referee on his head leaving him unconscious and was rushed to the Serekunda General Hospital.
by Meita Touray