Justice minister debunks rumour of Presidential pardon for Norwegian convict

Monday, August 27, 2018

Gambia’s Justice minister has responded to social media rumours that he recommended to President Adama Barrow to have mercy on Svein Agesandakar, a Norwegian citizen who was convicted of child abuse in the country.

Abubacarr Tambadou said he learnt with utter dismay of reports circulating on social media that he recommended to the president for the exercise of his prerogative of mercy on the Norwegian citizen convicted of child abuse in The Gambia.

Acting under Section 82 of Gambia’s 1997 Constitution and on the advent of the Holy feast of Eid-ul-Adha (Tobaski), President Adama Barrow on 20 August, 2018, exercised his prerogative of mercy and granted pardon to four Gambians and three foreigners including Mr. Agesandakar who were convicted and sentenced on various offences.

“I want to make it clear that I was not aware of this matter neither did I make any such recommendation to the President,” Mr. Tambadou said in a statement on Saturday. “In fact, I am currently out of the country on the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. This matter was not brought to my attention for advice and I have consistently taken a hard line position on homicide and sexual offences convicts as reflected in all previous pardons in which I have participated as a member of the Prerogative of Mercy Committee which also includes the Honourable Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police and a religious leader,” he said.

President Adama Barrow came under fire for pardoning Mr. Agesandakar who was sentenced for paedophilism and was serving time for fiddling six Gambian children with an early release.

He was given a three-year jail term and ordered to pay a D600,000 fine in 2012 for abusing six children, the youngest victim was about three years at the time. His jail term was extended to another three-years following his inability to pay the court fine.

Earlier last week, social media and newspaper criticism rocked the country with people asking questions on the reasons for Mr. Agesandakar’s pardon considering the severity of the offence he was convicted for.

“I therefore reiterate that I was not involved in any decision to recommend the said Norwegian citizen for pardon contrary to reports that I made the recommendation. Upon my return from the Hajj, I will get to the bottom of this matter and find out how the MOJ came to be associated with the purported conflicting statements released on our twitter page,” Minister Tambadou added.

He said it is also disheartening to note that some people see this incident as an opportunity to attempt to further tarnish his reputation by associating this incident with a previous one involving his brother last year, saying, “I want to state that I am not my brother and I am not responsible for my brother’s actions as a private legal practitioner. I would like to be judged on my actions alone regarding my professional conduct and not constantly get associated with the actions of my brother who is a private legal practitioner.”

He said he will not allow anyone with any kind of agenda whatsoever to distract him from his objective of establishing strong foundations for democratic practice, respect for human rights and upholding the rule of law in The Gambia. “The challenge is hard enough without the pettiness and personal attacks from some quarters albeit limited.”

Author: Amadou Jallow