‘Trafficking in person suspect has a case to answer’

Monday, June 24, 2019

Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court has called upon one Lamin Janneh to open his defence in the trafficking in person charges proffered against him by the State.

Delivering his ruling last Monday, 17 June, 2019, the trial judge disclosed that the accused person; Lamin Janneh is charged on a bill of indictment containing four counts of conspiracy to commit felony, money laundering and financing terrorism contrary to the laws of The Gambia.

The prosecution alleged that Lamin Janneh between the period June to October 2016 at diverse places in Kanifing Municipality of the Republic of The Gambia conspired with one Sankung Janneh who is in Libya to collect and transfer money for the release of abducted persons.

The prosecution also alleged that the accused person Lamin Janneh between the period June to October 2016 at diverse places in Kanifing Municipality of the Republic of The Gambia received the sum D2, 315, 500. 00 for the payment of ransom from various relatives of captives in Libya to secure their release under Sankung Janneh’s captivity, knowing that the money is proceeds of a crime 

The prosecution further alleged that the accused person between June and October 2016 at diverse places in Kanifing Municipality of the Republic of The Gambia transferred the sum of D1, 500, 000.00 to Libya for payment of ransoms to release Gambians under the captivity and abduction of Sankung Janneh knowing that the money is proceeds of crime. 

The prosecution also alleged that the accused person Lamin Janneh between June and October 2016 at diverse places in Kanifing Municipality of the Republic of The Gambia directly or indirectly provided funds to Sankung Janneh in Libya having reasonably belief that the funds will be used to carry out a terrorist act.

Justice Jaiteh disclosed that the accused person was arraigned before the High Court on 5th day of December 2017 and he pleaded not guilty to all the four charges.

He further disclosed that the prosecution called seven (7) witnesses and tendered four documents marked as Exhibits “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” and the defence through the prosecution’s witnesses also tendered three documents into evidence as exhibits and they were marked as “D1” “D2” and “D3” respectively.

The trial judge stated that upon the close of the prosecution’s case, the defence raised a no case to answer and filed a written brief of argument on the 15th day of April 2019 but State Counsel B.D. Jaiteh on the 8th day of May 2019 filed a written reply to a no case to answer raised by the defence.

The trial judge pointed out that after reading the briefs of arguments filed by both counsels and having carefully read through the testimonies adduced by the prosecution witnesses, he concluded that there was only one issue for determination, which is whether the accused person has a case to answer.

Justice Jaiteh explained that the prosecution having concluded their evidence and closed their case, the defence argued that the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to sustain the charges or sufficient evidence that would safely lead to the conviction of the accused person hence made the submission of no case to answer.

The trial judge declared that he needs not deal with the credibility of the witnesses or the weight of their evidence but the question that needs answer is whether the evidence produced by the prosecution had been discredited in cross-examination or whether the evidence adduced is manifestly unreliable that it would not be safe to convict.

He pointed out that the question was; had the prosecution produced evidence to support an element of the allegations of the offences charged? Had the prosecution established a prima facie case against the accused?

He remarked that a prima facie case is said to exist when there is evidence sufficient enough to support the allegation made in the absence of further evidence rebutting same.

 He averred that after examining Exhibits “A” and “B”, receipts of payments dated the 18th and 19th days of August 2016 received by the accused person in the sums of D90, 000.00 and D5, 000.00 from PW1 as ransoms for the release of one Ansumana Trawally from custody, he observed that the accused person signed exhibits “A” and “B” and did not controvert or discredit that he signed the said receipts.

The trial judge held that the accused has a case to answer as to why he signed and received monies meant for ransom payments, adding that the various prosecution witnesses testified to the effect of making payments to the accused person.

Justice Jaiteh disclosed that the accused person in his cautionary statement admitted receiving payments from various individuals which he had not sufficiently rebutted or discredited under cross-examination.

“It is my view that there is a ground to proceed in this trial because essential elements have been established,” he stated.

Justice Jaiteh revealed that the defence submission of no case to answer is not clearly made out so it fails and he therefore ordered the accused person; Lamin Janneh to enter his defence forthwith.

Author: Bruce Asemota