|Over $1 billion cocaine seized in Gambia in June 2010|
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- · ASP King Colley and two others granted bail
- · President Jammeh ordered for withdrawal of NAPSA charges
Billion Dollar Cocaine Trial Reaches Climax
The trial of nine foreign nationals accused of being in possession of prohibited drugs and drug trafficking related offences has reach a high point, with the prosecution and the defence preparing to submit their final addresses.
Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade, presiding over Gambia’s capital city’s District Magistrate Court is expected to hear both addresses on 23, August 2011, in a cocaine trial estimated to worth over $1billion.
The accused persons have all denied allegations of 10 offences – ranging from being in possession of prohibited drugs, conspiracy, dealing in drugs, being in possession of fire arms without proper authority - to importation of fire arms without lawful authority.
To prove their case, the prosecution, led by the Director of Public Prosecution Abdullah Mikailu has called 16 witnesses and tendered 35 exhibits including the 86 sacks of cocaine.
Prior to opening their defence, counsel Lamin S. Camara made a no-case-to-answer submission, arguing that the prosecution has failed woefully to make a prima facie case against the accused persons.
But the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution S.H Barkun disagreed; he said the prosecution has proved a case against the accused persons and that they have a case to answer.
Magistrate Taiwo, presiding, ruled in favour of the prosecution, saying they have established a case against the accused persons by calling 16 witnesses and tendered several exhibits. Hence, it is the opinion of the court that the accused persons have a case to answer. He subsequently ordered them to open their defence.
Nonetheless, only the 1st accused Rudy Hamied Ghazi; the 2nd accused Juan Carlos Sanchez; and the 5th accused George Sanchez opened their defence. According to their counsel, the rest will not enter their defence on grounds that he has rest his case “on the prosecution’s evidence”.
Defence Counsel Borry S. Touray has told our judicial correspondent that he filed an appeal to the High Court for a restart of the “false information trial” of Mr Dodou Sanneh, a former reporter of the state-funded Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS).
This, according to him is because he took over the case when the prosecution had already closed its case and the accused ordered to enter his defence.
“I have filed an appealed at the High Court to restart the case,” counsel Touray said, while noting that he took charge of the case after the prosecution had closed its case and have already called three witnesses.
Prior to this latest development, Touray had argued in court that “the right to write a petition” is “guaranteed by 1997 Constitution” Section 25(F) and this provision is meant to give redress to aggrieved citizens.
“The Office of the President is not a public office due to the fact that the accused have no case to answer,” he claimed. “The prosecution fails to make a prima facie case against the accused person.”
He urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused person, but presiding Magistrate Manyima Bojang overruled this application.
Meanwhile, Dodou Sanneh has maintained a not-guilty plea on a charge brought against him by the police.
ASP King Colley and two others granted bail
Assistant Superintendent of Police Lamin King Colley, Musa Jobe of Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), and Tida Badjie of the Gambia Police Force have been granted bail in the sums of D750, 000 and 150,000 respectively.
Justice Emmanuel Nkea, presiding, at the High Court in Banjul, on 2nd August, 2011 admitted defence counsel Ms Uzoma application for bail, to which, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution S.H Barkun has no objection.
The trio and four others are standing trial on charges of economic crime, conspiracy, forgery and abused of office, but have denied any wrong doing.
ASP King Colley bagged a bail bond of D750, 000 with two Gambian sureties and a landed property within the Greater Banjul Area, while Musa Jobe and Tida Badjie each bagged a bail bond of D150, 000 with two Gambian sureties. The Justice Nkea also ordered them to surrender their traveling documents to the Court with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, their co-accused Ousman Manjang, Gam-Star Insurance Company; Zainey Faal; Abdou Willan, Gam-Star Insurance Company; and Temple Godson, a Nigerian businessman, are being held at the Mile 2 Central Prison.
They appeared at the Banjul city Magistrate Court on July 27 and did not take their plea since the lower court lacks the jurisdiction to try economic crimes. Magistrate Manyima Bojang, presiding, ordered for their remand at the State’s maximum security wing, the Mille II Central Prison until they are arraigned at the High Court.
Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade, presiding at the lower court in Banjul has withdrawn criminal charges against three executive members of the pro-government student body, the National Patriotic Student Association (NAPSA) on 1st August 2011.
The decision is said to have been influenced by a directive from the office of the Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh.
NAPSA’s Denis T. Gomez, Jarga E. Gaye and Babucarr Jallow were standing trial on charges of “Conspiracy to commit felony, forgery and uttering false documents”. Charges they denied.
The student body’s Secretary General Fatou Yaffa had earlier on pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine of D20, 000 in default to serve four years imprisonment.
On Monday, the police prosecutor Sergeant 3238 Manga applied to withdraw the charges under Section 1 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
This was because the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) received a letter from the office of the President, asking for the charges to be dropped.
Manga tendered the said letter to the court to be properly examined, after which
Magistrate Taiwo cautioned the accused persons that “ignorance of the law is not an excuse”.
He warns them to desist from anything related to such crimes.
· Source: The Voice Newspaper