Ousman Badjie Freed

Ousman Badjie Freed

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Gambia’s former Minister of Transport and former Ambassador to France have been found not guilty by a Banjul High Court in a 5 counts criminal charges he was tried on before Justice E.O Dada.

The judge’s yesterday decision was contained in a judgment she delivered in the barely two years protracted trial.

Mr Badjie was arraigned in court on 16th December 2014 on five-count criminal offences ranging from two counts of economic crime (Specified Offences) and three counts of neglect of official duty.

He is alleged to have caused economic loss to the government of The Gambia to the tune of 27, 500 Euros being monies paid by Society General Agence Centrale Provlevead Haussmann Paris 750099 without authorisation to Faisal Bojang, Gambia’s former financial attache to the Gambia Embassy in Paris between 14th to 30th June 2014 and diverse places in The Gambia as the country’s head of mission in France owing to his willful negligence.

He is also alleged to have caused economic loss to the government of The Gambia to the tune of 34, 333 Euros being revenue collected but not deposited and other shortages caused by Faisal Bojang, the financial attache at The Gambia Embassy in Paris between 14th to 30th June 2014 and diverse places in The Gambia while being the Gambian head of mission in France, owing to his willful negligence.

Prosecutors also claimed that the accused between the same dates and places while serving the same position, willfully neglected to perform his duty to follow up with the Society General Agence Centrale Provlevead Haussmann Paris 750099 to recover the sum of 27, 500 Euros being monies paid without authorisation to Faisal Bojang, the former financial attache at The Gambia Embassy in Paris.

He is equally charged for willfully neglecting to perform his duty, consequent of which Faisal Bojang caused shortages in the sum of 34, 333, 00 Euros in the Embassy’s account and for willfully neglecting to perform his duty to pursue the police declaration that the signature of the deputy head of mission was forged.

Delivering her judgment, Justice Dada recast the particulars of offences leveled against Badjie, saying the question is whether or not Ousman Badjie intentionally committed the offences which caused economic loss to the Gambia Government.

She said the prosecution called three witnesses in the case, saying it is clear that the duty of the head of the mission is the overall responsibility. She added that the witnesses did not show any responsibility Badjie attached to the revenue that caused economic loss to The Government of The Gambia.

She said the question is whether the prosecution witnesses and the documents tendered in court by the prosecution are sufficient enough to warrant a conviction, saying the burden of proof solely lays on the prosecution.

Justice Dada stated that she is of the view that from the evidence before the court, Mr Badjie did not commit a crime, saying it is not denied that a fraud is committed at the Gambian Embassy in France. She stated that no evidence is shown that Mrs. Sock had been charged or even brought to court as a witness.

“I am of the view that the prosecution did not prove the case as required by the law. I see it as holding the accused liable for the offence committed by his subordinate. The accused is not found guilty of the five counts and he is accordingly acquitted and discharged.”

After the judge read the verdict, the state counsel A.M Yusuf expressed the state’s intention to appeal against the judgment but Badjie’s lawyer L.S Camara submitted for his client to be admitted to bail in that circumstance now that there are no pending charges against him.

He said there is no fear that Badjie may abscond because he has made himself present for trial for two years and therefore urged the court to invoke Section 99 Sub-Sections 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Justice Dada then granted him bail in the sum of D10 million with two Gambian sureties.

by Fatou Sowe