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Dutch National Discharged, Acquitted

Feb 9, 2009, 3:49 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

As Court Rules in favour of Defence

The Kanifing Magistrates' Court, presided over by acting Principal Magistrate Sainabou Wadda-Ceesay, on
Friday 6th February 2009 discharged and acquitted Mr Marc Maurice Alfred Vanmaldegem, the operations manager at Kombo Beach Hotel, in connection with a criminal case.

This follows the address on a no-case submission by the defence counsel, Badou Conteh, in defence of his client and the subsequent reply by police prosecutor Cadet Inspector Mballow.

Marc Maurice Alfred Vanmaldegem was first arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates' Court and charged with aiding a prisoner to escape.

The particulars of offence stated that the accused on or about the 3rd September 2008 at Banjul and diverse places aided a trial prisoner Andrew Charles, General Manager of Carnegie Minerals Company to escape. He pleaded not guilty.

He was later discharged by the Banjul Magistrates' Court for lack of jurisdiction to hear the case. The case was subsequently transferred to the Kanifing Magistrates' Court where he faced a two-count charge.

Count one stated that the accused on or about the 3rd September 2008 at the Kombo Beach Hotel conspired with others at large to defeat the course of justice by communicating with Andrew Charles Northfield, an accused person, knowing him to have absconded from trial and thereby committed an offence.

Count Two indicated that the accused on the same day and at the same place knowingly prevented the execution of a legal process by communicating with Charles Andrew Northfield who had absconded from trial and entered his room and removed his personal effects instead of reporting to the authorities. Again he pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution called five witnesses who testified against the accused. At the end of their testimonies, the defence opted not to give evidence but applied to the court to make a no-case submission.

In her ruling, Magistrate Wadda-Ceesay told the court that a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to carry out an unlawful purpose. She went on to say that the prosecution witnesses did not identify the persons who were alleged to have conspired with the accused. She adduced that there was no agreement between the accused and Charles Northfield to abscond, adding that there was also no evidence to prove that the accused had conspired with others to defeat the course of justice.

Magistrate Wadda-Ceesay further adduced that a legal process is any document filed or issued in any legal proceeding which the judge or magistrate has directed for its execution.

She stated that there was no evidence of any such process before the court. She added that the exhibits tendered by the prosecution did not constitute a legal process, and that there was no legal process that the accused prevented.

She noted that the court could not hold that the accused had conspired with others to defeat the course of justice and prevented the execution of a legal process. She finally stated that it was the view of the court that the no-case submission by defence counsel, Badou Conteh, should be upheld. She then discharged and acquitted the accused.