14 March 2013

Gambia: Ex-Agric Officials' Trial Suffers Another Setback

The trial judge in the ex-agric officials' case, Justice Ikpala of the Brikama High Court yesterday, 13th March, adjourned the proceedings after the prosecution failed to appear with a written a request for an adjournment for other dates. When the case was mentioned at court, the defence counsel Sheriff M Tambadou announced his appearance for the fourth, sixth and eighth accused persons, while holding brief for lawyer LS Camara.

He confirmed the receipt of the request made by the prosecution for an adjournment, but argued that the excuse given was not reasonable. "The state does not lack the resources to make the necessary arrangement to appear for the proceedings today," said Lawyer Tambadou. He argued that the dates selected by the state were not favourable and further requested for suitable time for an adjournment which was granted by the court. Subsequently, the case was adjourned till on Wednesday, 10th April 2013. In retrospect, during the last sitting, the trial judge in his ruling called on the state to take the case seriously. He noted the failure of the prosecution to appear in court since 5th December 2012 and stressed that the attitude of the state in the case is not fair to the accused persons. Justice Ikpala reminded that the court is not a sanctuary of keeping case files. He indicated in his ruling that the Director of Public Prosecution will be written to on the matter.

He said the prosecution should either appear in court or drop the case. It could be recall that this trial involved eight former senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and one local businessperson who are being tried on five counts of economic crimes, two counts of negligence of official duty and three counts of uttering false documents. The accused persons are namely Alhagie Bakary Trawally, former Permanent Secretary, Mr. Kekoi Kuyateh, former Deputy Permanent Secretary, and Dr. Amadou Sowe, former Permanent Secretary, Dr. Mustapha Ceesay, former Deputy Director of NARI, Mrs. Awa Sey Touray, former Supplies Officer, Mr. Momodou Mbye Jabang, former Programme Coordinator, Mr. Yusupha Jawara, Mr. Seedy Jarju and Mr. Modou Lamin Ceesay, businessman, The accused persons were arraigned before the subordinate court and remanded in custody for more than a month. They were later granted bail on 5 June 2012 by the then trial Judge, Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the Brikama High Court.

Alhagie Bakary Trawally and Modou Lamin Ceesay, the 1st and 2nd accused persons, were each granted bail of D3,000,000 with two sureties with a landed property within the Greater Banjul Area. The sureties must also produce their own title deed whose value is D3,000,000, and the accused persons must surrender all their travel documents to the court. Dr Amadou Sowe, Mr.Seedy Jarju, Mr. Momodou Mbye Jabang, Mr. Kekoi Kuyateh, Dr Mustapha Ceesay and Mr. Yusupha Jawara, were each granted bail of D2,000,000, each with one Gambian surety with a landed property within the Greater Banjul Area. They must also surrender their own personal property whose value is D2,000,000 and the accused persons must surrender all their travel documents to the court. Meanwhile, Mrs. Awa Sey Touray was earlier granted bail by the Banjul High Court.

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