By Lamin Sanyang
Justice Simone Abi of the Criminal Division of the High Court yesterday, Wednesday 3 December, set date for the ruling on an application for bail for Mr. Ousman Badjie, former Minister of Works who is standing trial at the Banjul High Court.
The matter did not proceed after it was originally scheduled for the defense to address the court on the application for bail made by the defendant. The trial judge told the court that he would not entertain oral submissions because he cannot write for more than 30 minutes. He gave 48 hours to parties to file their written briefs to the court.
The defense lawyer Lamin S. Camara, reminded the trial judge that the matter before the court is one dealing with fundamental rights. He submitted that the court has a mandate to entertain oral or written submission of briefs. The trial judge said it is his decision that the parties should submit written briefs.
In the meantime, the defense had prepared a 22 paragraphs affidavit in support of summons signed by one Mrs. Aisha Badjie, the wife of the accused. The document stated that the applicant (Ousman Badjie) is presently detained at the State Central prisons at Mile II pending trial. It also noted that the applicant is a father of four children and has never had any problem with the law.
“The applicant has served government for many years as an outstanding citizen with dignity and integrity and in various capacities such as, Minister of Interior, Ambassador to Morocco, and Ambassador to France and Minister of Works,” said the affidavit.
The affidavit adduced that the applicant would not interfere with witnesses if released on bail as investigations into the matter have since concluded. It is noted in the document that the charges preferred against the applicant are bailable offences. It also stated that the applicant has no criminal record and has people ready and willing to act as sureties for him in the event that the court grants the application.
“The applicant will in no way jump bail and will at all times present himself to this court or any other court if required to do so for trial,” it pointed out.
The affidavit argued that the applicant is entitled to bail and the court has the jurisdiction to grant bail. It is said that unless the court orders the applicant’s release, he would continue to languish in detention till the end of trial. It is highlighted in the document that it is in the interest of justice to grant the application.
However, the State has also prepared a 15 paragraphs affidavit in opposition to the bail application. The said affidavit states that the application should not be granted arguing that the applicant is charged with a count of Economic Crime occasioning cumulative loss to the tune of 27,000 Euros for failing to recover such amount and two counts of neglect of official duty before the subordinate court.
“That we have just got the case diary from the investigators and upon perusal of same, there is strong and compelling prima facie evidence against the applicant, investigation into other aspects of the applicant’s activities is still ongoing,” said the affidavit in opposition.
The state prosecutors have predicted other charges may likely be brought against the applicant. It has however, described what it termed as eminent fear that the applicant would tamper with the investigations and interfere with the witnesses if released on bail. It is stressed in the document that considering the nature and gravity of the offences preferred against the applicant there is likelihood that he would jump bail if his application is granted.