“We’ve established a prima facie case against Sait Matty” – prosecutor

By Mamadou Dem
Mr Drammeh, the prosecutor at the trial of Sait Matty Jaw submitted atSait Matty Jaw
his trial at the Banjul Magistrates Court yesterday, 15 April, that
the prosecution has established a prima facie case against the accused, Sait Matty Jaw.Attorney for Sait Matty Jaw, Lamin S Camara had earlier appealed to
the lower court in Banjul to acquit and discharge the History Lecturer
at Gambia’s own University, Sait Matty Jaw for lack of enough evidence
warranting him to open his defence.
Mr. Jaw is being tried on the following charges: conspiracy to commit
a misdemeanor, failure to register a business and two counts of
Disobedience of Statutory Duty, contrary to the laws of The Gambia.
Replying to the defence’s no case to answer submission, state counsel Babucarr
Drammeh submitted that it is trite law that for  a court to hold no
case submission, there are facts that the court need to look into i.e.
whether the necessary elements of the charge or offence has been
established by the prosecution.
He said the question that needs to be asked is “What are the
ingredients or elements the accused is charged with?”
At that juncture, he quickly drew the attention of the court to all
the counts on the charge sheet and read them respectively.
According to the prosecution, evidence adduced by prosecution
witnesses and elements of the offences have been established. He
therefore urged the court to reject the defence’s application and
ordered the accused person to enter his defence.
Prior to the above submissions, the prosecutor argued that the
ingredients surrendered by the prosecution shows that the offence was
committed; adding that there was an agreement between the accused
persons and the convicts in this case.
“Even though there is no direct evidence to prove the evidence, it can
be proved by either direct evidence or circumstantial evidence,” he
submitted.
Lawyer Drammeh further submitted that the cautionary statement of the
accused person (Exhibit A1) was tendered in evidence without objection
from the defence even whereby they submitted that the said statement
was defective. He said the defence only questioned whether an
independent witness was present.
He therefore submitted that a prima facie case has been established
against the accused person in respect to all charges meted against
him.
Regarding the registration of a business as alleged on count two, the
state submitted that the activities of the accused person were
qualified as a business in accordance with the single windows Business
Registration Act 2013. He further referred the court to Section 7 of
the said Act.
Prosecution further alleged that the history lecturer did not only
mobilise people for the training but he participated during the
training.
The state counsel maintained that all prosecution witnesses presented
before the court were credible; adding that the burden of proof of a
case beyond reasonable doubt lies on the shoulders of the prosecution.
However what is required for the prosecution is to establish a prima
facie case, so proof beyond reasonable doubt is not an issue at this
stage of the trial.
According to Barrister Drammeh the issue or issues at hand is whether
the prosecution has established a prima facie case against the accused.
He added that the proof of a no case to answer submission when made on
behalf of an accused is that the trial court is not called at that
stage to express any opinion on the evidence before it. The court is
only called upon to take note and rule accordingly.
“It is our submission that the evidence before the court has indeed
supported the charge against the accused person. The proof of guilty
or not guilty is not to be determined at this stage,” he opined.
“We urge the court to reject the defence’s application and allow the
accused to enter his defence,” he concluded.
In his reply, lawyer Lamin Camara submitted that exhibit A1 is
admissible but has no probative values and therefore the court cannot
rely on the content for a simple reason that there was no independent
witness.
On the single window Business Registration Act, Camara submitted that
assuming without conceding that the accused conducted a business, the
court is enjoined to look at section 44 sub (5) (a) of the Act which
he cited in court.
According to Camara, even if it was a business, his client cannot be
convicted on the offence. “I finally urge Your Worship to discount the
reply, and acquit and discharge the accused person for lack of
evidence.”
At that juncture, the matter was adjourned till 29 April 2015 for
ruling on the ‘no case to answer’ submission.