By Rohey Jadama
The former minister of works, construction and infrastructure and erstwhile ambassador of The Gambia to France Mr. Ousman Badjie was yesterday, 16 February, 2016 cross-examined before Justice Simeon Ateh Abi of the Banjul High court.
Lawyer Lamin S. Camara appeared for the defendant, whilst lawyer A.M. Yusuf announced his representation for the state.Mr. Badjie under cross-examination by lawyer Yusuf said he has been in Paris for 2 years, Faisal Bojang was there for 4 months and Mrs. Adele Sock was also there for 2 years. He further told the court that he arrived in Paris before Mrs. Sock.
The former Gambian ambassador to France said at the time of his arrival in Paris, one Mr. Jaiteh, the then Financial Attaché, was in charge of the embassy.
When asked whether he and Jaiteh were the signatortes to the account, Mr. Badjie responded that Jaiteh was the only signatory to the account and that he did query that by informing headquarters in Banjul that the signature he found at the embassy is not normal and that they
needed the presence of the deputy head of mission and that Mrs. Sock was sent few days after.
“She assumed her duties as deputy head of mission and head of chancery and of course signatory to the embassy’s account. It is a diplomatic practice that any new comer in the country, we have to inform the ministry of foreign affairs of the host country through a ‘note verbal’ and also in her capacity as the head of chancery, we sent a ‘note verbal’ to the bank informing them that she
is the new head of chancery and the fact that she is the new signatory to the account,” he said.
When asked whether there was a particular time that he was a signatory to the account during his stay in Paris, the former ambassador responded that the only time he became a signatory to the account was when Faisal Bojang committed his crime and ran away.
The former Gambian diplomat said during his time in Paris, he had a deputy head of mission who also doubles as the head of chancery, the finance attaché and the consular in charge of UNESCO matters as home based staff. He added that the protocol welfare officer was a local staff and was appointed by the head of chancery.
Mr. Badjie told the Court that the ambassador with advice from the head of chancery can terminate the contract of any local staff and that the ambassador per se will always consult the head of chancery to determine the scope of duty of the protocol welfare officer.
“Are you saying the ambassador and the head of chancery have a parallel authority,” asked prosecutor Yusuf. “The Foreign Service rule is very clear about the duties and responsibilities of head of chancery and our responsibilities are not the same. In my absence in the mission area, the deputy head of mission steps in as chargee d’affaires ad interim and it is well defined in the Foreign Service rules,” said former ambassador Badjie.
At this stage, a copy of foreign service rule was shown to Mr. Badjie and after going through it he told the court that the foreign service rule in use now is dated 2012 and the copy he is shown is dated 2009.
State counsel Yusuf asked the defendant whether he has a copy of the current one and he told the court that his defence counsel has a copy of it.
Lawyer Camara argued that he wanted to tender the said document but prosecutor Yusuf objected to the tendering of it and now he wants to tender it.
A copy was made available to Lawyer Yusuf and he applied to tender it as an exhibit. Without any objection from the defence counsel, it was tendered and marked as Exhibit J.
“I remembered telling this august Court that apart from Paris, I was concurrently responsible for four other missions namely the Russian Federation, the Swiss Confederation, Romania, UNESCO in Paris and the UN in Geneva. So I have the overall responsibility of all these missions,” said fromer ambassador Badjie.
At this juncture, the case was adjourned to 17 February, 2016 for continuation of cross-examination.