Aug 3, 2011, 2:17 PM
The lower court in Banjul yesterday acquitted and discharged four senior officers of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of all the charges preferred against them by the state.
Lamin Darboe, deputy head of the special operations unit, Alagie Edrissa Jobe, head of special operations unit, Ebrima Drammeh, director of internal security and Omar Jammeh, officer commanding West Coast Region, were being tried for the offences of assault causing actual bodily harm, common assault and assault causing grievous bodily harm.
The trial lasted for two years, and saw the testimonies of officers from the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), as well as the former Executive Director of NDEA, Ibrahim Bun Sanneh.
Delivering his judgment, principal magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe told the court that the accused persons were properly arraigned before the court in 2010, and charged with four counts, which they denied.
Challenged by the plea of the accused persons, the prosecution called five witnesses in support of their case, including the complainants, Lamin Sima and Lamin Kabou.
He said the accused persons also opened their defence and called witnesses in support of their case, including one Sukuta Jammeh and some members of the agency also testified in support of their defence.
Magistrate Alagbe added that both the complainants, Lamin Sima and Kabou, had told the court that they were acting upon the instructions given to them by the officer commanding to intervene to effect arrest of the accused persons.
He said that Ibrahim Bun Sanneh also told the court that in May 2009, coming from work as director general, he received a call from the former commissioner of operations, Ousman Sanneh alias “Sembi” that some NDEA officers were seriously beaten by the accused persons in Brikama, West Coast Region.
He said Bun further told the court that he instantly called the then Director of the NIA, Bo Badjie, to inform him about it, but Badjie told him that he was not aware of such, but promised to find out, which he did.
Still reading the judgment, the trial magistrate stated that Bun Sanneh further told the court that on the following day, when Lamin Sima and Lamin Kabou reported, he personally took them to the NIA and handed them over to Bo Badjie, as director at that time.
He added that after the testimonies of both sides, the defence counsel Abdoulie Sissoho, filed written briefs in support of their case.
He added that in his briefs, defence counsel told the court that the only issue raised for determination was whether the accused persons had conspired to beat the complainants.
The magistrate said the defence counsel further asked whether the prosecution had prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt, citing the Nigeria law report to support his submission.
On the other hand, the state counsel, D.O. Kulo, told the court that the accused persons acted very unprofessional by beating their fellow officers.
He added that state counsel told the court that the medical reports from RVTH for the injury of the two complainants were destroyed by the accused persons, which was a clear testimony of their guilt of torturing the complainants.
Still delivering the judgment, the trial magistrate stated that the state counsel further defined torture, “as any act which was severe in due process of obtaining information from an individual.”
The trial magistrate told the court that the only two issues raise for determination was whether actually the accused persons had done the act of torture, and whether the prosecution had prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt.
He added that the court strongly agreed with the defence counsel that the prosecution had failed woefully by not tendering the medical report of the injured persons.
He said even though it had been alleged that the accused persons had destroyed the medical report, there must be a copy at the RVTH in their main records, which the prosecutor failed to tender before the court to clear all doubt.
Magistrate Alagbe further stated that the prosecution only provided a mere photo, which had a long interval with the actual case.
He added that the prosecutor should have contacted the particular hospital which attended to the complainants to prove the torture claim, which he failed to do.
He said the issue of conspiracy could not stand as the prosecution had failed to prove the element of conspiracy, adding that the state counsel was using the word torture, injured and wounded throughout the trial, and those words were not synonymous.
He added that the court strongly believed that there was a big difference or conflict of interest at that material moment among the officers for the NDEA officers to ask the NIA to hand over the substances to them.
Magistrate Alagbe stated that the court could not engage in speculation, but purely be based on facts and evidence.
It was disheartening for the court to know that the two complainants acted to help the drug dealer to escape with 15, 000 Euros owned by the state.
In light of the above, the accused persons were acquitted and discharged, the magistrate announced.