Monday, January 24, 2011

Four Sittings, No Yusuf! Where is He?

Yusuf Ezzedeen’s unexplained absence in court for four sittings could be said to have add details to unconfirmed reports that the Lebanese Gambian is out of the jurisdiction.
Ezzedeen, a businessman, alongside the former chief of defense staff Lt Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba and six others, including top security officers, a businessman, and a Gambian diplomat were sentenced to death July 15 of last year for treason.
They have been found guilty of attempting to overthrow the incumbent government, despite denying the allegations.
Seven of the convicts have collectively appealed against the sentence, except for Yusuf Ezzedeen who appealed separately.
When the case was called Friday, the chair of Appeal Court asked why the accused was not in court but neither the prosecutor nor defense lawyer responded.
For the past one month, his appeal trial has stalled because Yusuf has not been coming to court. During the previous proceeding, a prisons officer was asked about the whereabout of Yusuf, but he refused to comment “for security reasons.”
Neither the state prosecutor nor Yusuf’s lawyer could explain to the court his whereabouts. And the three-member panel of appeal court judges has been accepting request for adjournment.
 The case has been adjourned again to Wednesday January 26, 2011.
In a related but separate development, the leading defense counsel in the in appeal of the Lang Tombong and Co Friday disclosed to the panel of judges at the Court of Appeal in Banjul that they have more additional grounds of appeal to submit.
Lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka further told the panel of  judges that he has already discussed it with the Director of Special Litigation D.O Kolu, who is representing the state.
The state counsel admitted it.
Secka urged the court to adjourn the case for two weeks to enable the defense team to better prepare.
It could be recalled that the appeal of the Ex-CDS and six others could not be heard on the last sitting date because the lead defense Pap Cheyassin Secka said the records where not ready and they have no access to it.
Lang Tombong Tamba and Co have appealed  against the death sentence slapped on them by High Court Judge Emmanuel Amadi in July 2010, after found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government of the Gambia in 2009.
The rest of the appellant are Ex-Deputy of chief of Defense staff Omar Bun Mbaye, Ex-NIA BOSS Lamin BO Badjie, Ex-top Officer Lt Col. Kawsu Camara, Ex-deputy police chief, Modou Gaye, a business tycoon Abdoulie Joof, a Gambian diplomat,  Gibril Ngorr Secka

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