Nov 28, 2013, 9:19 AM
Defence counsel Lamin Camara, representing the accused persons in the multi-million dollar cocaine trial involving nine foreign nationals, yesterday made a no-case-to-answer submission at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before acting-Principal Magistrate Alagba.
The nine accused persons are: Ephriam Micheal Chiduben a Nigerian national, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Eric Bottini, Dose Fermin, Juan Carlos Diaz, and Esteaban Zavala all Venezuelan nationals, George Sanchez a Mexican/Liberian national, as well as Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi and Dennis Wilgo Winter both Dutch nationals.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to traffic in prohibited drugs, trafficking in drugs, dealing in prohibited drugs, having firearm without authority, importation of firearm without authority, among others.
In his submission, counsel Camara told the court that the law empowers the court to look at the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses to see whether it was sufficient enough to require the accused persons to enter into their defence.
He said if the minimum benchmark is not met, the court has the jurisdiction to acquit and discharge the accused persons.
He added that the no-case-to-answer submission would be upheld when the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses have not proven the element of the case; when the evidence adduced by the prosecution was unreliable to the extent that no creditable court can admit it; and when the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses was discredited under cross-examination.
Counsel argued that the accused persons were never found in possession of the said cocaine, adding that there was no constructive possession, and there was no knowledge of the existence of the said cocaine, under the control and the directives of the accused persons.
Camara further submitted that PW3 told the court that the content of the bag found at Bonto was not confirmed, and after it was searched, nothing was found in the bunker, except water.
He added that there was no evidence in this court to show that the accused persons acquired the said cocaine, arguing further that there was no evidence that Charlos Chanzes was found in possession of firearms, except a slender flimsy evidence that he was the occupant of the room, and the authority had searched the living room of Charlos Chanzes, but found nothing.
LS Camara further submitted that no witness has said that arms were found in the possession of Charlos Chanzes and Charlos fingerprints have not shown that arms were found in his possession.
He added that none of the ingredients had been proven by the prosecution, adding that the prosecution had woefully failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubts.
He submitted further that there was no evidence to show that Charlos Chanzes had imported firearms from Guinea Bissau, adding that it is his submission that the prosecution had not made a prima facie case, as the prosecution’s case was based on suspicions.
“No matter how strong the suspicion was, it does not amount to proof,” counsel stated, adding that there was no evidence that linked the accused persons to the offence.
He, therefore, urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused persons.
The case continues on 14 July 2011.