“Former Works Minister has no case to answer’ Lawyer Tells Court

By Kebba Jeffang
Lawyer Lamin S. Camara, the defence lawyer for Ousman Badjie, theOusman Badjie
former works and infrastructure minister, in submitting ‘No Case to Answer’ called for the acquittal of his client on the grounds that the prosecution has failed to meet even the minimum standard of evidence against him which he said must be proved.He made this submission yesterday, 25th March, 2014 before Justice
Simone Abi of the Banjul High Court.
When the matter was called, the state was represented by Counsel A.M
Yusuf whilst Lawyer L.S Camara appeared for the accused person.
L.S Camara told the court that his client was charged with four
counts; two of which are Economic crimes while the other is negligence
of the official duties. He said for the prosecution to succeed in the
case they have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused
person was responsible for the act that made the Gambia government
lose the amount of Twenty-Seven Thousand Five Hundred Euros (27, 500)
during his time at the Gambia mission in Paris. He added that
prosecution must also prove that it is due to his willful negligence
that the Government of the Gambia lost the amount of Thirty-Four
Thousand Three Hundred and Thirty Three (34,333) Euros as alleged in
the charge sheet as the then Head of the Gambian mission in France. He
said counts three (3) and four (4) are in relation to that of one and
two.
“In an effort to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt the
prosecution has called three witnesses; namely Gibril Mendy, Alagie
Manneh and Malick Sillah. I submit that all of them have testified
about what they know about the case but none of them ascribed any
wrong act of the accused person in respect to the charge,” LS. Camara
submitted.
Lawyer Camara added “PW1 Gibril Mendy said he is a retired Director of
National Treasury. He told the court that a handing over report was
comprehensively prepared, signed by the financial attachée, the deputy
head of mission, and the accused person. He also told the court that
the report was reviewed and submitted to the Ministry of Finance. He
is the key witness of the prosecution. Under cross examination, he
said Chancery Bojang is answerable to the Head of the Mission but
where there is no Head of Mission, he is answerable to Deputy Head of
Mission. He informed that the roles of the Head of Mission and the
Deputy Head of Mission are different.  He said the financial attaché
was technically answerable to the head of chancery who was responsible
for the finances and that in the case of France there was no head of
chancery and that it was the deputy head of mission,” submitted
Camara.
The defence lawyer recalled that Alagi Manneh, PW2 a police officer
testified and tendered the Exhibits A1, A2 and B. He said in respect
of Exhibit B, the witness said he didn’t investigate the matter but
recorded the exhibits.  He also said he doesn’t know the independent
witness nor his work place.
He said PW3 Malick Sillah also testified saying Faisal Bojang, the
Financial attaché was attached to the Finance office in the Gambia
mission in France. He said he was one of the people who went to France
between 14th and 30th June to look into activities from the time
Faisal took over, adding that the witness told the court that they
checked the accounts from November to December 2014, reviewed January
to June, went to the bank and finally prepared a report which they
submitted. He said the witness explained that after this process, a
financial report was subsequently prepared. He said this reported was
the one admitted as Exhibit C.
However, Lawyer Camara submitted that the said report bears no name
and therefore there is no evidence of authorship by anybody. He said
Exhibits D1 and D2 don’t bear the period of concern from the financial
activity in France. He said Exhibit C has no indication as evidence
that it is a public document by the Gambia Mission in France since
there is not even an address on it. He submitted that there is nothing
incriminating in Exhibits C, D and D1.
He further submitted that “the said documents have not shown anywhere
that they are coming from an authority. It is a total allegation.
Where is negligence of the accused person? From the consistent
evidence of the witnesses, the accused person has no oversight to
financial attaché Faisal Bojang. It is my submission that the
prosecution has woefully failed to make a prima facie case against the
accused. PW1 said he is familiar with some of the Foreign Service
regulations especially with regulation 0224. He said it outlined the
duties of the foreign staff. He also said it is stated there that the
day to day activities of the mission are delegated to the head of the
embassy by the permanent secretary ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Defence lawyer submitted that there are three conditions to be met on
the law of no case to answer. He said among these the prosecution must
prove the element of the offence and with satisfaction the proof of
the evidence. He said none of the witnesses gave any evidence against
the accused person. He said the witnesses said Faisal Bojang is not
answerable to the accused person.
“I submit that the prosecution has woefully failed to meet even the
minimum standard of prima facie. In a prima facie case, a minimum
standard of evidence has to be proved,” said Lamin S. Camara.
The matter at this juncture was adjourned till today, 26th March, 2015 at 11am.