Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yolocamba: ‘I don’t want the accused to be convicted’

The accused persons
The Executive Director of Yolocamba Solidaridad, a Madrid-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Ms Begonballes Teros Sanchez maintained that she did not sue the accused persons to court.
On Feb. 3, Ms Sanchez was being cross-examined by Lawyer Amie Bensouda in the theft case involving Dr. Isatou Touray and Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoho (executive director and programme manager) of the Gambia committee against harmful traditional practices (GAMCOTRAP) at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided by Alagbe Taiwo Ade.

Asked by counsel Bensouda as to whether she wants the accused persons to be convicted or punish, Ms Sanchez said: “No I don’t want them to be convicted or punish and this process was not initiate by me but I want the money to be given to the people whom it was mean for.”                                                                                                                                                       “I did not initiate any process and the judicial system in the Gambia is not in my hand, I am just a witness,” she maintained. But Bensouda insisted that she is not just a mere witness in this case.
Your organization is a human rights institute and you are violating the rights of the accused persons because you know that this is a civil matter, counsel Bensouda said, however, Ms Sanchez upholds that the court action was not initiated by her.
Amie Bensouda asked, do you have any Email or letter where Dr. Touray said Gamcotrap were experts in micro-finance, Sanchez replied in the negative, adding that she did not have any documents with regards to the project implementation as well.
According to Ms Sanchez, she visited Koina and Brikamaba to see the beneficiaries of the micro-finance project but Gamcotrap showed her only a few people. Counsel Bensouda indicated that her statement is untruth just to show that she can’t justify the unreasonable allegation against the accused. But Ms Sanchez disagreed, saying that her statement is true and that the contract agreement started on March 6, 2009 but she did not receive the final report from Gamcotrap.
“You may not be happy with what you have but you have received the final report from Gamcotrap,” the defence counsel charges. “I did not receive any final report from Gamcotrap,” the witness replied, noting that the second phase of the project was approved on Dec. 2, 2010 of which the money was in her possession and she sends 1000 Euros to the accused persons so that they can explain the implementation process.
Bensouda put it to her that if the first project was not effective, you will neither be able to secure money from donors nor to send it to anyone, Sanchez agreed but noted that she was not in a position to cut-off Gamcotrap from the said project.
She also denies traveling to the Southern Senegalese Region of Cassamance, but the defence counsel noted there are email correspondences from one John at 1227GMT to Dr. Touray indicating that she (Sanchez) went to Cassamance on a personal mission.
At this point, counsel Bensouda applied to tender as defence exhibit ‘the witness emails correspondence’, but prosecutor Superintendent Sainey Joof object to it, arguing that the document is from one Omar Dibba of Gamcotrap to Emma both of whom are absent from court. It is neither made by the witness nor is she the right person to tender through the said document.
In reply, Bensouda argued that the document sought to be tendered by the defence was identified by the witness and the document shows correspondence of emails between the administration of Gamcotrap and Yolocamba and as well contains a series of correspondence between officials of the two organizations and the witness. She explained that they are the original correspondence between the two organizations and are admissible unless the prosecution wants to bring the computer which it was made.
In his ruling, presiding Magistrate Taiwo overruled the objection raised by the prosecution and marks the emails correspondence as Defence Exhibit 4.
Is it correct that you demanded Gamcotrap to refund of 31, 350 Euros to you? Sanchez said the accused did not agree to carryout micro credit finance, leading to this (court proceeding) dispute.  
However, she agreed with the defence counsel that under the European Union development rules, the measure used to undertake issue like this is mediation, arbitration or civil negotiation.
That is all over the world, Sanchez said noting that for six months they had tried to solve it through mutual negotiations. According to her, the final report of the project should be of authentic documents attach with invoices and all projects must be justified by invoices, but the defence counsel pointed out that there is nothing in exhibit B2 that Gamcotrap should submit invoices.
“As the Director of Yolocamba, to put the two women in the box is a disgrace to your organization,” counsel Bensouda said. “They have taken the money and failed to justify how they spend it,” replied Ms Sanchez. The Case continues on February 16, 2011. Source: The Voice

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