Jul 10, 2009, 9:49 AM
(Monday, 08th February 2010 issue)
Justice Joseph Wowo of the Banjul High Court on Wednesday 3rd February, convicted and sentenced, Mr. Abdoulie Osseh Corr, Alassan Mbowe and an old man Baboucarr Njie, who were charged with three counts of juju criminal activities. They were convicted on two counts and sent to jail for two, four and three years, respectively for counts two and three, and discharged and acquitted of count one.
The three men were earlier acquitted on all charges by a magistrate court in
The charges of the trio read: "Attempting to acquire juju criminal charms for malfactors" contrary to Section 365 of the Criminal Code, "Offering criminal charms for reward," contrary to Section 186 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code and "conspiracy to acquire criminal charms" contrary to Section 368 of the Criminal Code.
The defence team Lamin S. Camara, Sidney Riley and Pap Cheyassin Secka made a bail application, but were denied by the court. They were remanded pending the outcome of the trial. Lawyer Riley later withdrew from the case and was replaced by Borry S. Touray, who also withdrew without proceeding with any sitting
On Wednesday 25th March 2009, after six months of trial of the magistrate court, Principal Magistrate Mbai, discharged and acquitted all three men on all three counts. However, they were arrested right at the court room and taken into custody
On 19th May 2009, they appeared before Justice Wowo of the Banjul High Court on the appeal made by the state against the judgment of the magistrate’ court.
Delivering judgment on Wednesday 3rd February after going through all the facts of the case and summing up all the evidences, Justice Wowo said that he found out that the trial magistrate was at fault by failing to properly evaluate the evidences adduced by prosecution witnesses, especially that of PW1 Alassan Wuri Jallow, the juju marabout. Justice Wowo also ruled that the trial magistrate did not consider the evidence of the NIA officer that refused to swear on the Holy Quran, when giving his evidence, but instead affirmed. He ruled that "the magistrate's saying that as a Muslim, if one does not swear to the Holy Book one might not be telling the truth cannot stand."
According to him, "not swearing to the Holy Book does not mean one does not tell the truth," asserting that the trial magistrate was wrong on that aspect.
He therefore found all three men not guilty on count one, that's attempting to acquire juju criminal charms for malfactors." He found them guilty on count two, "offering criminal charms for reward" and on counts three "conspiracy to acquire criminal charms."