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Defence Counsel Addresses Court in Dutch National's Case

Jan 26, 2009, 4:44 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Lawyer Badou Conteh has filed a written address on a no-case submission before acting Principal Magistrate Sainabou Wadda Ceesay of the Kanifing Magistrstes' Court in defence of Marc Maurice Alfred Van Maldegem, Operations Manager at Kombo Beach Hotel.

Lawyer Conteh stated that the accused is facing a two-count charge of conspiracy ie to defeat the course of justice and prevent the execution of a legal process. He indicated that the prosecution called five witnesses in support of their case, and tendered exhibits P1 to P9.

He went further to state that a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to carry out an unlawful act and that the object of conspiracy must be unlawful. Lawyer Conteh adduced that the prosecution has failed to lead any evidence of conspiracy and that it is legally impossible for the accused to conspire with himself. Therefore, he argued, such an element has not been substantiated in any material terms. Further indicating that the communication with Charles Northfield did not in any case relate to any unlawful purpose the defence counsel stated that this did not suggest or imply any agreement between the two. He added that the communication between his client and Northfield was limited to the removal of personal items from the latter's room so that the said room may be available for use by other guests."None of the prosecution's witnesses identified the people who are purportedly at large and that the prosecution made no attempt whatsoever to lead evidence regarding the people who are alleged to be at large," Lawyer Conteh asserted.

He submitted that there are no such people and that there is no iota of evidence indicating, much less proving, a conspiracy between the accused and others. "The mere instruction by Charles Northfield for the accused to remove his items from his room and distribute the remaining ones to the hotel staff does not amount to unlawful communication and could never defeat the course of justice as alleged," Lawyer Conteh submitted.

"It was also in evidence that neither the hotel staff nor the management were forbidden from communicating with Charles Northfield,"he said arguingthat it is not an offence for an Operations Manager of a hotel to enter the room of a guest who had left on the guest's instruction and remove items belonging to the guest.

"From the evidence, it was crystal clear that the accused did not know that Charles Northfield had absconded from trial and that nobody in the hotel knew that Charles Northfield had absconded from trial,"defence counsel Conteh noted citing some authorities to support his argument.

Lawyer Conteh finally stated that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused and thus urged the court to uphold the no-case submission and discharge and acquit the accused.