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Ex-NIA Officer acquitted in diamond appeal case but...

Jun 9, 2011, 1:35 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The High Court in Banjul presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi yesterday upheld the appeal by Salimina Drammeh, former officer of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and acquitted him.

Salmina Drammeh along with five other ex-NIA officers were jailed by the Kanifing Magistrates Court to four years imprisonment in December 2010, after they were found guilty by the lower court of conspiracy, theft, abuse of office and criminal trespass.

Following the judgment, the prosecution announced that the state was going to appeal against the court’s decision, and urged the court to remand the appellant pending the determination of the appeal.

However, L.S. Camara, counsel for the appellant, applied for bail, adding that bail is at the discretion of the court.

He said his clients were previously granted bail during their trial at the lower court until their conviction, while urging the court to grant him bail, making reference to the State versus Ousman Badjie and 15 others, 12 of whom were acquitted and remanded, but were later granted bail.

Justice Amadi subsequently granted bail to Salimina Drammeh in the sum of D500, 000 with one Gambian surety with landed property situated within the Greater Banjul Area.

The conditions further stipulated that the appellant must deposit his National Identity card and travel documents.

The other appellants Lamin Drammeh, Basiru Jabang, Kajali Jawara, Lamin Sanneh, and Fabakary Barrow had their appeal dismissed by the court.

In his judgment, Justice Amadi read a summary of the evidence adduced by the 10 prosecution witnesses called at the lower court, before analysing the appeal according to the law.

Justice Amadi allowed count one to stand, concurring with the lower court’s decision on count one, which was conspiracy.

On count two which was theft, he dismissed the appeal of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th appellants and upheld their conviction and sentence on that charge.

On count three, “I allow the appeal of the 5th appellant, Fabakary Barrow, and the 6th appellant, Salimina Drammeh, and set aside their conviction and sentence in that count of abuse of office,” the trial judge told the court.

The high court Judge further stated in his marathon appeal judgment: “I dismiss the appeal of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th appellants, thus upholding their conviction and sentence on that count.

In respect of the fourth count which was criminal trespass, “I dismiss the appeal of the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th and 5th appellants and uphold their conviction and sentence on that said count.”

The indictment on count one stated that the convicts had conspired to commit an offence.

They were also accused of stealing from one German national, Dr Frank Mahler, the sum of $205,600; D1,100, a Siemens mobile phone and eight diamond stones on 23rd June 2003 in Room F15 at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.

Count three indicated that on 28 June 2003, at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, being employed in the public service by the NIA, the accused persons abused the authority of their office and carried out arbitrary acts prejudicial to the rights of Dr Frank Mahler and Niklas Wastphal.

Under count four, the former NIA operatives were accused of entering a property in possession of another with intent to intimidate two German nationals, Dr Frank Mahler and Niklas Westphal.