Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gambia’s ex-top cop gets 10 years jail term for drug trafficking, other charges

The embattled top-cop was found guilty on Monday after a long-running legal battle
A former top cop of The Gambia Police Force and top military officers has been handed a 10-year jail term on Monday following their conviction on charges related to drug trafficking, economic crimes, abuse of office, and official corruption.

Ex-Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie, Lt. Mamatarr Secka and Major Kuluteh Manneh who pleaded “not guilty” to 51 charges since 2010, were found guilty on 42 charges and sentenced accordingly by the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul, The Gambian capital.
All the three were handed various prison sentences ranging from 3 to 10 years on several charges, which Justice Emanuel Nkea, presiding, said will run concurrently from the date they were first taken into custody. 
The court however acquitted and discharged Badjie and Co. who were in court for sentencing on 9 charges. 
A fully-packed court gallery shouted in “disapproval” when the judge announced the first verdict, a custodial sentence of 10 years. Relatives also wept.
Their counsels, Bory Touay and Lamin K. Mboge had before the sentencing pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy and urge for a non-custodial sentence. They talk about the “responsibilities” of their clients and their services to the country.
The judge in his verdict cited compelling mitigating circumstances which are in favour of the convicts, citing the clean past of no previous conviction of Lt. Secka and Major Manneh, their ages and being breadwinners for their respective families. 
He admitted that a long custodial sentence would inflict further hardship on their respective families. 
I have considered the fact that all the convicts were senior service officers, each, in his own right. The society looked up to them as protectors of the institutions of State, and thus, they incarnate the institutions of State, the judge said. 
“The convicts all had the onerous duty to uphold the law at all times. They choose not only to be law breakers, but also to incite hatred and dissatisfaction against their Commander in Chief; the holder of the highest office in the land,” he said.
He added that they failed their calling as law enforcement officers. 
“I will hold all these as aggravating factors to impose an enhanced and deterrent punishment under section 52 of the Criminal Code,” he said. “As a result of the forgoing, the convicts will not benefit from my discretion under section 29(2) of the Criminal Code.”
During the course of the trial, the prosecution had called 16 witnesses and tendered a host “evidences” in support of their indictment.
While each of the accused (now convicts) gave sworn evidence in their defence and also tendered a host of evidences. Ensa Badjie called in 9 additional witnesses to support his defence.
The Jan., 21 judgment brought the long-running high-profile criminal trial to an end. But the convicts still have right to appeal against their custodial sentences.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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