The state prosecution handling the criminal trial against Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Gambia’s former Minister of Petroleum and 8 other former senior government officials, yesterday informed the High Court in Banjul that it has filed in an amended indictment with the inclusion of another accused persons in the case.
Filed before Justice O Ottaba, the new amendment as announced by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) S H Barkun will now include Madun Sanyang as one of the accused persons in the case. He further announced that the amendment does not fundamentally affect the counts as Madun Sanyang is only charged on counts 1 and 3 while all other counts remain the same.
DPP Barkun added that the particulars of offence are still the same as the state only inserted the name of Madun Sanyang in the affected counts. He said the prosecution’s move is to avoid filing a separate charge against Sanyang when this particular case has just begun as it is at the first prosecution witness’s cross-examination stage.
He disclosed that the amendment was necessitated by a further investigation into the matter and applied for the court to substitute the previous indictment with the newly filed amended one.
Reacting to DPP Barkun’s application, Lawyer Antouman Gaye, defence counsel for the 1st accused person said the latest amended indictment should have been titled, “further amended charge” instead of amended charge as written on the process filed by the DPP but DPP Barkun maintained that there is no law that says the court can always verify the current charges by looking at the dates on each document. Lawyer Gaye however challenged that it is not the law as it provides for each amendment to be underline in sequence of the colors in the rainbow.
Defence lawyer Amie Bensouda for the 4th accused person announced her partly association with Lawyer Gaye’s submissions and added that the new accused person was listed as a witness in the case and his cautionary statement was obtained by PW1, whom she said is already under cross-examination. She said under that circumstance the case should continue with the cross-examination of PW1.
DPP Barkun revealed that all those issues were dealt with in the latest amended indictment that he filed but defence lawyer C. E Mene and lawyer E E Chime equally maintained that with this development and for the fact that they were served with the amended indictment in court, they need time to look at the document filed by the prosecution and consult their respective clients.
The presiding judge then ordered for the case to proceed with the cross-examination of PW1 while the amendment issue will be dealt with on the next adjourned date.
While continuing his evidence under cross-examination by defence lawyer Y Senghore, Chief Inspector Bakary Darboe, the first prosecution witness said he did not personally formulate the questions in the questionnaire that the 4th accused was responding to in his cautionary statement but the panel of investigators did.
He said that he cannot remember any of the questions in the said questionnaire and that he does not know the number of cautionary statements that the 4th accused (Cherno Marena) wrote.
During cross-examination by defence lawyer E E Chime, PW1 informed the court that he was one time attached to the Kuto police station while he was a first class constable and now a Chief Inspector by rank. He said Commissioner Momodou Ceesay is now his boss.
The accused persons namely: Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou OS Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Seedy Kanyi, Noah Touray, Louise Moses Mendy and Momodou Taal are jointly and severally charged with multiple criminal count offences.
Hearing continues today.
by Fatou Sowe