13 February 2013

Gambia: Lieutenant Serigne Jallow's Fate in Limbo As Court Martial Suffers Several Adjournments

The fate of Lieutenant Serigne Jallow, a Military Officer of The Gambia Armed Forces, standing trial before a General Court Martial holding at the Yundum Military Barracks, hangs in limbo as his trial suffers numerous unexplained adjournments since the last sitting on 31st January. On the last sitting date, the hearing was adjourned for the Court to deliver a ruling on an application filed by defence counsel Edrisa Sissoho and the response by the State counsel S. H. Barkum.

On Thursday 31 January, defence counsel Edrisa Sissoho made an application on the issue of jurisdiction for the Court to continue hearing the case. He argued that the time frame has elapsed for the accused person to be tried on the offence charged. He cited Section 124, Sub-section 1 of The Gambia Armed Forces Act to back his argument.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), S. H. Barkum argued that section 124 is a mere procedural technicality and it can be bent for the sake of achieving justice.

After both applications, the Court went into a recess to brainstorm on the applications and to deliver a ruling. However, it took the panelists 48 minutes before they emerged from Court chambers and adjourned the ruling to Tuesday 5 February due to the technicality of the applications forwarded by both sides. The supposed Tuesday sitting never materialised and was re-adjourned to Monday 11 February and then Tuesday 12th, which also did not materialise.

The reporter is reliably informed that the next sitting would be next week Tuesday 19 February.

It could be recalled that Lieutenant Serigne Jallow was charged in absentia while serving on a peace mission in Darfur, Sudan, for allegedly striking a subordinate soldier Sona Badjie, during the recruitment of intake 30 in 2009. He denied the allegation and the Prosecution has so far called 2 witnesses including the complainant Sona Badjie and Amadou, a medic at the Military Training School. The last adjourned date, the prosecution attempted to call their 3 witness, but defence counsel Sissoho came up with the issue of jurisdiction, which is now waiting for determination so that the trial will either continue or cease.

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