Saturday, May 26, 2012

‘You Don’t Send People to Remand and Go and Sleep’

Justice Amadi on the Middle, defense counsels on his sides
In a marked display of outrage yesterday at the High Court in Brikama, defense lawyers had expressed frustration over the prosecution’s seeming laid-back attitude towards the case of former top officials of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The eight ex-agric officials and a Gambian businessman are facing 10 criminal charges, including economic crime and neglect of duty. The allegations stemmed from a Commission of Inquiry’s discovery of importation of ineffective fertilizers. They, however, denied any wrongdoing.
Five of the nine accused persons, amongst them, two former permanent secretaries, were denied bail on Tuesday, while two remain at large and the only female, was released on bail since then.
“You don’t send defendants to remand and you go and sleep,”defense lawyer, Lamin Camara, said in an emphatic tone.

This was when the case resumed yesterday for continuation, only for the judge to announce on the contrary on the grounds that the state counsel could not attend court, because the Attorney General’s Chamber and Commonwealth Secretariat will be organising a human rights colloquium.
“If they are not ready to prosecute the case, let them discharge the accused persons,” Camara said.
His point was buttressed by another defense lawyer, Ida Drammeh, who slammed the prosecution for continual excuses.
Reminding the judge, she added: “You made an order for the case to proceed today and if there is an order somewhere and you don’t proceed, it is contempt.”
This was the latest in a series of outrage by defense lawyers over the slow pace that characterised this high profile trial.
But the judge urged them to further observe patience. “I would have reacted [otherwise] if the memo was somewhere else, but it’s from the judiciary,” Justice Amadi said.
Earlier on during the trial, defense lawyer, Sheriff Tambedou intended to file another bail application, but the judge refused to entertain him.
In a packed courtroom, Justice Amadi told Tambedou not force him to grant bail to ex-top officials, saying that the accused persons were only in remand and not dying.
“Take things easy, these people are not dying,” he said,“the nailing is too much. Please leave me alone. I am here for everybody.”
Tambedou however countered that it was unfair on the part of the judge for making such a statement.
“To say they are not dying should not be a statement you can make, but I can see your stand,” he said.
Meanwhile, the accused persons are: former Permanent Secretaries, Sidi Jarju, DrAmadou Sowe and Alh. Bakary Trawally; Momodou Mbye Jabang, former Project Manager; Awa Saye-Touray, a supplies officer, Kekoi Kuyateh, former secretary and Dr Mustapha Ceesay, Deputy Director General of NARI, all of whom worked at the Ministry of Agriculture, and Modou Lamin Ceesay, a businessman.
The case resumes May, 29, 2012.
Author: Binta A Bah

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