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Ex-Minister Jobarteh faces economic crime charge

Jul 3, 2013, 11:32 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Lamin AMS Jobarteh was yesterday arraigned before Magistrate Lamin Mbye of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on two counts of economic crime.

Jobarteh is already facing another 10-count charge including abuse of office and corruption, alongside former Solicitor General and Legal Secretary Pa Harry Jammeh, before the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

The particulars of offence on count one stated that Lamin AMS Jobarteh, between 2010 and 2013 in Bansang and diverse places in The Gambia within the jurisdiction of the court, deliberately failed to pay income tax, domestic and rates taxes on his lodge in Bansang, an act detrimental to the economy of The Gambia.

Ex-Minister Jobarteh was also accused on count two, that in the year 2012 in Banjul within the jurisdiction of the court, while serving as the Attorney General of The Gambia, without authority and with intent to injure the economy of The Gambia, set up a hoax committee to discredit the findings of a lawfully constituted Tax Commission, an act detrimental to the economy of The Gambia.

When the case was announced, the police prosecuting officer, Superintendent Joof, told the court that the prosecution was applying for the case to be transferred to the high court for proper jurisdiction, as the lower court lacked jurisdiction to hear or entertain the matter.

The prosecution was also applying for the court to deny bail to the accused person, and to remand him in prison custody, added the prosecutor.

In response, defence counsel Lawyer LK Mboge told the court that the team of defence counsel was applying for bail.

He said no specific amount had been indicated in the charge sheet, and secondly all the offences alleged to have been committed by the accused person are bailable offences in the eyes of the law.

The court has the power to grant the accused person bail, counsel Mboge added.

He said the accused person had spent 20 years in the bar, and for the same bar to deny him bail in the same court, that would be undone.

“We are, therefore, urging the court to grant bail to the accused person,” he said.

Deliver the ruling, the trial magistrate stated that the only issues raised for determination was whether the court has the jurisdiction to hear the matter, and whether the court has power to grant the accused person bail.

He added that the accused person was hereby admitted to bail in the sum of D1 million, with two Gambians sureties with biometric identity cards.

The bail condition further stipulated that the sureties must provide one title deed, which is equivalent to the above-mentioned sum.