Monday, September 8, 2014

Journalists Trial: ‘Evidence of prosecution witnesses unreliable’

Defence lawyers argue the journalists have no case to answer

The evidence of prosecution witnesses are tenuous, unreliable, discredited and unworthy of believe, defence counsel Lamin S. Camara said of the trial against two journalists on conspiracy and false publication.

“I therefore respectfully urged the court to uphold the no case submission, to acquit and discharged the accused persons,” Camara said in his submition of “no-case-to-answer” in the trial of Musa S. Sheriff and Sainey M.K. Marenah.

The Editor-In-Chief of The Voice newspaper and the freelance journalist denied charges of “Conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour” and “false publication” brought against them by the police in Banjul on January 16, 2014.

On Thursday September 4, their lawyer said the no-case-application is to the effect that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima-facie (based on what seems to be true) against the journalists.

“Therefore we respectfully enjoined this Court [Banjul Magistrates’ Court] to acquit and discharge the accused persons for the prosecution’s failure to meet the minimum benchmark required for the accused persons to enter their defence,” he said.

Barrister Camara argued that the prosecution must advance cogent evidence that is worthy of believe.

The prosecution has called eight witnesses during the course of the trial which began about nine months ago. But Camara said the “witnesses have been thoroughly discredited under cross-examination that no reasonable tribunal would believe in the testimonies.”

He said: “For the offence of conspiracy to be sustainable against the accused persons, the prosecution must have prove the meeting of the minds of the accused persons for an illegal enterprise or through the meeting of the accused persons by a legal enterprise by illegal means.

“For the offence of publication of false news, the prosecution must prove that the publication was indeed false and the accused persons knew that it was false and have no reason to believe that it is true.”

He added that prove of ingredients on count two is almost impossible because ‘there is no art to find the minds constructions on the face’.

Camara observed that the statement of the second accused, Musa S. Sheriff, was never tendered in court.

He said some of the witnesses testified that there are 58 green youths in Tanji but none were present on the day of the rally. However, upon calculating the number of green youths mentioned by prosecution witnesses, he asked: “Where are the 28 other green youths?”

He said there is so much doubt, there is so much lacunae (empty spaces where some things are missing) that no one can convict. He said the prosecution witnesses do not know where the rest of the other green youths were.

“Where there is doubt in any case, the benefit goes to the accused persons,” he said.

Magistrate Muhammad Krubally, the third to preside over this trial, Thursday set the case to continue on September 9. The prosecution is expected to reply.

Source: The Voice

Edited by Modou S. Joof

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