Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Justice Wowo: Treason convicts’ appeal is incompetent


Ex-CDS Tamba
A three panel of Judges at The Gambia Appeals Court headed by Joseph Wowo, on 14 April, 2011 dismiss an appeal against a death sentence imposed on the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of The Gambia and six others.
The court maintains the death sentence imposed on erstwhile CDS Langtombong Tamba, Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbye, Major Lamin Bo Badjie, Lieutenant Colonel Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, former Deputy Inspector General of Police Momodou B. Gaye, Head of Diplomat in Guinea Bissau Gibril Ngorr Secka and Business tycoon Abdoulie Joof, on grounds that the appeal is incompetent and it violates the rule of law of Court of Appeal.
The appellants were sentence to death on two counts of treason by Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the High Court in Banjul, on July 15, 2010.

One of the convicts, a business tycoon, Youssef Ezzeddine has not been appearing in court since the appeal started and the whereabouts of the Lebanese remains unknown to the public.
In his judgment, Justice Wowo told a crowded court room that the convicts were arranged before Justice Amadi and charged with three counts of treason, while count one was struck out, the prosecution called fifteen witnesses and tendered several exhibits to prove their case.
He said the counsels’ of the convicts filed a notice of appeal against their conviction on 20 and 23 July, 2010. The notice of appeal contains seven grounds of appeal.
He said the State Counsel Daniel O. Kulo filed a sixteen-page brief to challenge the grounds filed by the convicts.
According to him, the court has listened and read carefully the grounds filed by both parties because there are issues that touched the jurisdiction and the rules of the court.
Justice Wowo said defence counsel Pap Cheyassin Secka argued in court, but did not refer the court to any authority, while state counsel Daniel O. Kulo said that the rule of court should be respected by giving a notice of appeal to the respondent and said the notices grounds filed by the convicts constitutes an abuse of process of the court.
Justice Wowo said he agreed entirely with the state counsel that “the appeal of the convicts tantamount to abuse of the process of the court”.
He said none of the notice of the grounds of appeal by the convicts consisted of any specific grounds of their appeal.
Justice Wowo further said the appeal lacks essential ingredients, but that for the sake of substantive justice the court has looked into it. He said court has noticed fundamental defects in the appeal of the convicts and the counsels disregard to the following rules of the court of appeal.
He said he struck out additional grounds 2 and 3 of the convicts appeal and he also struck out ground one and seven of the notice of appeal by the convicts for lack of competence. He finally dismisses the entire appeal filed by the seven convicts.
Wowo’s colleagues – Justice B. Kalaile and Justice Na Ceesay Sallah Wadda agreed with the decision to dismiss the appeal and uphold the death sentence. Justice Wowo indicated that the file record will be available to the defence counsels and they have a right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
After the decision reached by the court, the death row inmates where heard saying to their relatives and families that “God is the only Judge” while shaking their hands, meanwhile, weeping scenes where replicated like was the case when they were convicted last year. Source - The Voice

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