NIA 9 trial adjourned for adoption of briefs

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul yesterday adjourned the criminal trial involving the nine former officials of the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

The nine former NIA officials are Yankuba Badjie, Louise Richards L. Gomez, Saihou Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansary, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang.

They are charged with multiple offences including conspiracy to commit felony, assault causing serious bodily harm, murder and making false documents amongst others.

The prosecution, comprising lawyers from the Attorney General’s Chambers and led by Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DDPP), M.B. Abubacarr called two witnesses who had earlier testified before the court and were cross-examined by the defence.

The prosecution was due to call the 3rd prosecution witness when the Attorney General and Minister of Justice issued a flat to six private legal practitioners to take over the case which resulted in the 1st accused/ applicant, Yankuba Badjie, raising an objection to the move.

During yesterday’s sitting, defence counsel C.E. Mene informed the court that his client has filed briefs in respect of the application.

He further informed the court that the briefs were filed out of time due to some circumstances, explaining that when the order for briefs was made, he was out of the jurisdiction.

At this juncture, lawyer Antouman A.B. Gaye rose and told the court that he was given a paper inside the court.

He argued that the 1st accused/applicant’s counsel has not complied with the court order but rather he came to the court to make a verbal statement.

Antouman Gaye further argued that he should make a proper application asking for an extension of time to file his briefs.

Lawyer C.E. Mene then informed the court that he was applying orally for the application to be deemed really filed, noting that the briefs have been served on all the counsels.

Lawyer Gaye, however, informed the court that they were objecting to the oral application, noting that the application was filed yesterday at about 11am and that the mode of service was improper.

The presiding judge then intervened and urged the prosecution team led by lawyer Gaye to accept the service in order to save time and enable the court proceed to the next level.

After acceptance, lawyer Gaye submitted that no sufficient reason was advanced as to why the briefs were served out of time.

Lawyer Gaye recalled that the court made an order on 29 June 2017 and each side was given 7 days, and on the last adjourned date, the 1st accused/ applicant was represented by B. Secka who informed the court that C.E. Mene was out of jurisdiction.

Lawyer Gaye pointed out that lawyer Mene was duty bound to obey the court order and submitted that all the adjournments have been at the instance of the defence, particularly at the instance of the 1st accused/ applicant.

Lawyer Gaye submitted that in similar fashion to the objection the 1st accused/applicant raised to their representation, they are also objecting on the grounds that the brief was not filed in good faith and urged the court not to allow the brief, but rather dismiss it.

Lawyer C.E. Mene responded that the application was subject to the discretion of the court and he debunked the prosecution claims that the adjournments have been at the instance of the defence, noting that the prosecution team have not been in the case since the beginning.

The presiding judge, in her ruling, stated that the court rules included the power of the court to deal with jurisdiction, which must be handled with care.

She then ordered that the 1st accused/applicant file his brief within 24 hours and the respondent was given 10 days to file theirs.

Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara called for the briefs to be effected on counsel to counsel service.

 The matter was then adjourned till 31 July 2017, for adoption of briefs.

Author: Bruce Asemota