Principal Magistrate Kebba Baldeh of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on Monday expunged the names of 4 accused persons from the charged sheet in the criminal trial involving the state against 30 former Gambia government officials.
The court also issued a bench warrant against Lamin Sissay and Ebrima Sanneh in ordedr to secure their appearance in court to answer to charges leveled against them.
The development followed an application made by police prosecutor S Sanyang, under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to amend the charge sheet by way of expunging the names of Aussainou Jobarteh, Abdoulie Jallow, Buba Sanyang and Kebba S Touray from the charged sheet.
He revealed that since the inception of the case, the above mentioned accused persons have never appeared in court as they are at large and for the case to proceed, it is necessary for their names to be expunged from the charged sheet
In reaction to the application, defence lawyer E. Sanneh for the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 27th and 30th accused pedrsons argued that the prosecution’s application is not the right procedure, adding that they (prosecution) should have apply under Section 68 of the CPC to withdraw the charges against the mentioned names, saying if that is granted then they can amend the charges for the remaining accused persons to take their pleas. He said the prosecution’s application is misconceived.
The objection of the defence counsel was overruled and the court granted the prosecution’s application and struck out the names of the earlier mentioned accused persons.
Defence OMM Njie for the 4th and 5th accused persons submitted that despite that the names been strucked out, the 10th, 12th, 16th and 23rd accused persons were absent and consequently plea cannot be taken.
He stated that the prosecution needs to take a position on those accused persons who are absent and he further urged the prosecution to resolve the issue so that the case can make a progress.
Prosecutor Sanyang informed the court that the 10th accused person (Malang Jammeh) was granted bail but could not fulfilled the conditions and their (police) orderly was at that material time at Mile 2 to bring him to court. In respect to the 12th accused person, Sanyang said he was already on bail and the prosecution had made an application for his bail to be revoked and the sureties to be brought to court.
He submit that the 16th accused person is yet to take his plea but was coming to court until the previous sitting date. Sanyang then applied for a bench warrant to be issued against the 12th, 16th and 23rd accused persons since their answers are unknown to the court.
In response to the prosecution’s application, Lawyer E Sanneh told the court that his client (23rd accused person) is attending a post graduate masters degree in Asia and that it is the state that awarded him a scholarship.
Lawyer Sanneh submitted that he was instructed by his client on 18th October 2016 to act on his behalf while he is away, adding that his client was never served with a copy of the charge sheet and that the charges before the court were instituted on 30th August 2016 and since then the prosecution have series of excuses to delay the proceedings.
Sanneh urged the court not to issue a bench warrant until reasons why they are absent is known, stating that if the bench warrant application is granted it may have implications on the rest of the accused persons who are not present, maintaining that lack of presence of the accused persons in Monday’s sitting has no incline on the proceeding .
In his ruling, the presiding Magistrate granted the prosecution’s application for bench warrant to be issued against the 16th and 12th accused persons while for the 23rd accused person, the court declined saying that he has never appeared in court.
The accused persons now numbering 26 namely; Abdoulie Jallow , Dr Cherno Omar Barry, Abdoulie KM Jallow, Lamin Camara, Lamin Sanneh, Tijan Jeng , Jerreh sanyang ,Malang jammeh , Momodou Lamin Jammeh, Lamin Sisey, Masaikou M. Marong , John Belford, Yaya Drammeh ,Ebrima Sanneh Sambou Nget ,Kebba Faal ,Nfamara Dampha ,Lamin Mai Touray ,Lamin Juwara ,Saikou Sidibeh,Siaka Saidyleigh ,Momodou C Joof ,Alieu Jammeh ,Abdoulie M Cham ,Morro Krubally ,Kantong Jallow are alleged to have between the years 2014 and 2016 in the city of Banjul and diverse places, being in their various positions in various government ministries and departments neglected their duties to engage the services of a qualified mechanics/engineers to assess and diagnose the conditions of vehicles under their purview leading to the wrong identification of vehicles for auction.
They are also alleged to have in the same year and places and in their various Government Ministries and departments abused their offices by identifying government vehicles for auction knowing well that they have no expertise knowledge to do same, leading to them identifying the wrong vehicles for auction.
The case was adjourned to 21st November 2016 at 1pm.
by Lama S. Jallow