#Article (Archive)

Ex-Minister Waa Juwara and Co trial stalls

Nov 7, 2013, 10:23 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The trial involving Lamin Waa Juwara, former Minister of Regional Administrations, Lands and Traditional Rulers, and two others yesterday failed to proceed at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before senior Magistrate Lamin Mbai.

The case which was scheduled for the cross-examination of the prosecution’s first witness, Samba Sillah, was adjourned on the grounds that one of the defence counsel, L.K. Mboge, had written to the court that he was at the Supreme Court.

The other accused persons are Hamidou Jallow, Principal Lands and Evaluation Officer at the said Ministry, and Tamsir Onasis Konteh, a local businessman.

During the proceedings, state counsel AM Yusuf told the court that the case had been dragging since September 2013, at the instance of the defence counsel.

He said the last time it was lawyer Tambedou who asked for an adjournment, and now counsel L.K. Mboge has also applied for adjournment, which is making the case to drag.

“A criminal trial should not be dragging as justice delayed is justice denied. The state is, therefore, urging the court to refuse the adjournment and to proceed with the case,’’ he said.

At that juncture, one of the defence counsel, Abdoulie Sissoho, rose and told the court that on behalf of the first and second accused persons, he wanted to proceed with the case as lawyer Tembedou had informed him that he was going to the Supreme Court, and that he should hold brief for him.

Counsel Sisohor added that the matter had been adjourned several times, at the instance of the prosecution, noting that the first adjournment was when the police withdrew from the case and the state took over through the Director of Public Prosecutions, SH Barkun.

He said another adjournment was when the PW1, Samba Sillah, was late in coming to the court.

Another adjournment was when state counsel MM Jobe did not come to the court, so there was no alternative but only to adjourn the case, he said.

He said on 24 September 2013, counsel Sheriff Tembedou wrote to the court hat he was going for the Hajji and he held brief, adding that these were the reasons why the case was being adjourned.

Delivering his ruling, the trial magistrate told the court that the state counsel had told the court that the case had being dragging for too long at the instance of the defence counsel.

He added that the counsel for the 3rd accused person wrote to the court that he would be engaged at the Supreme Court, and he did want the case to proceed in his absence.

He said criminal cases should not be adjourned for more than two weeks, and equally cases should not be dragging, noting that in the interest of justice, the court would give the 3rd accused person the benefit of the doubt.

He added that by the next adjournment date if counsel L.K. Mboge failed to appear, the case would definitely proceed.

The case was adjourned to 19 November 2013, for hearing.