Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Trader Fatajo Avoids Jail
A Gambian businessman convicted for ‘breach of peace’ has paid the D10, 000 fine imposed on him and avoided going to jail.
Banjul Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday sentenced Mr Karamo Sainey Fatajo to pay a fine of D10, 000 or go to jail for three months.
But Mr Fatajo and an army of family members and sympathysers who went to witness the judgement prefer the former as Mr Fatajo wasted no time to pay the money.
A judicial source said Mr Fatajo’s best friend helped him to pay the fine within an hour.
In any case, the businessman was full of life when he walked-out of the court a freeman after a four-month long trial, our judicial correspondent says.
He was escorted to his home by his loved ones.
A family member told The Daily News that the imposition of a fine was a relief for them as they had wept the previous day when he was declared guilty.
“We were hoping that he will be found innocent because, as far as we are concerned, he committed no crime, but when the magistrate said he was guilty we thought Karamo will be jailed,” the unnamed family member.
The trader at Albert Market in Banjul was arrested in December 16, 2010, after a trader fellow, Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay told the state authorities that the Mr Fatajo was saying at the market that neighbouring ‘Senegal will attack Gambia.’
His alleged comment came in the wake of a recent thaw-in relations between Senegal and Gambia over the seizure of alleged Gambia-bound arms shipment impounded in Nigeria from UN-sanctioned Iran.
The arms catch renewed Senegal’s long suspicion over Gambia’s arms support to its independence-seeking rebels in Casamance. Gambia reacted by accusing Wade government of smear campaign.
Although Karamo had denied saying that ‘Senegal will attack Gambia’, the magistrate on Tuesday said enough evidence was produced to find the trader guilty.
At dawn of the trial, some analysts commented that the case is an indication of how much Jammeh regime could go to suppress speech.