Court should close prosecution case - Hawa Sisay Sabally

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hawa Sisay Sabally, the counsel for Yussef Ezzeden, the 8th accused person in the ongoing treason trial involving the former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba and seven others, has suggested to the trial judge to force the prosecution to close its case.

This suggestion by the defence was made following another adjournment application made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Richard Chenge, last Friday.

The DPP told the court that the prosecution cannot proceed with the case on that day, because there were some crucial documents to be tendered, and that the documents are with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

"The witnesses are available, but we want to make a full disclosure of the documents so that we can serve the defence," Chenge said.  

Lawyer Hawa Sisay-Sabally

Defence counsel Hawa Sisay-Sabally argued that this adjournment application should be the last adjournment request from the DPP.

She told the court that treason is a serious charge, and time, she noted, is not favouring her client, adding "there should be presumption of innocence until proven guilty."

"My Lord I have a client who is sick, and everyday this matter is adjourned his liberty is at stake, while his health condition is not taken into consideration."

She added: "We were given voluminous documents. And we are still going to be given another voluminous document that we don't know the contents of; and we don't know how much documents will be served."

Lawyer Sheriff Tambedou
Lawyer Sheriff Tambedou also argued that "when this case started, the judge indicated that the matter be heard daily, so that they can expedite hearing, but recently the case has been adjourned time and time again, at the instance of the prosecution."

"It seems to me that the prosecution is not ready to start prosecution of this case, or as the case is going on they find additional documents to correct a weak case," he argued.

"I am not in the position to object to their application," Tambedou continued, adding "the DPP brought additional documents to punish the defence."

Lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka
Pap Cheyassin Secka, for his part, objected the DPP's application. He said: "I will rather call the DPP's case a non-existent case, instead of weak. There is nothing we can do about the application, but it will appear that if the DPP brings the documents, we will need at least two days to study the documents."

In reacting to counsel's arguments, DPP Chenge said that this was not the first treason trial ever, noting that within two to three weeks the prosecutionis about to close its case.

"We have been efficient and exceptional," he said, adding that whether his case is weak or non-existent will be known at the end of the trial.

At this juncture, the court intervened and asked the DPP to be precise and clear, if at all he (DPP) has other documents, or whether the documents he will be serving will be the last documents.

DPP responded that they do not expect to serve further documents, and promised to serve the court these documents on Monday.

Subsequently, lawyer Secka told the court that since they are going to be served on Monday, and they do not know the type of documents they are going to be served, he thinks the earliest they can come to court is on Thursday 22nd April 2010. He maintained that they have to go to Mile 2 Prison and talk to their clients.

He reminded the court that if there is going to be any credit for a speedy trial, it will be to the court, but not to anybody else, since they are all working to expedite the matter.

In response to that, the presiding judge ruled that there is nothing wrong with the proceedings going on expeditiously. He added that he cannot stop the prosecution from producing other documents.

"We cannot stop human error. However, I take as an undertaken that after this the case will proceed without unavoidable stops."

Subsequently, the matter was adjourned to Thursday 22nd April 2010.          

Author: Soury Camara
Source: Picture: Lawyers Pap Cheyassin Secka (1) Hawa Sisay-Sabally (2) and Sheriff Tambedou (3)