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Gamcotrap duo case fails to proceed

Nov 23, 2010, 11:01 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The criminal trial involving Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director of the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), and Amie Sisoho-Bojang Programme Co-ordinator at the same organisation, yesterday failed to proceed at the Banjul Magistrates' Court.

The two prominent women's rights activists are being tried before Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea for allegedly stealing 30,000 Euros, being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain to GAMCOTRAP.

The case was scheduled to continue with the testimony of the prosecution's third witness, but the witness was not in court.

Superintendent Sainey Joof, the prosecuting officer, told the court that the case was set for continuation with the testimony of the prosecution's third witness who is among the female circumcisers, but she was not in court.

He applied for an adjournment to enable him arrange and bring his witnesses to court on the next adjournment date.

According to Joof, the prosecution intends to call 10 witnesses, who live very far in the Upper and Central River regions, and that transporting them to Banjul is expensive.

He said this was the first time the prosecution had applied for an adjournment in the case.

Responding to the prosecution's application for an adjournment, defence lawyer Amie Bensouda, the lead defence counsel, objected to the prosecution's application for an adjournment.

"The main complainant in this case did not give any evidence, and the prosecution is bringing women all the way from the provinces to come and testify," she told the court. Counsel asked why the main complainant did not come to give evidence before the court, adding that the prosecution had ample time to transport their witnesses to court.

"My colleague lawyer LK Mboge requested for the prosecution to provide the defence with the witness statements, and all documents relating to the case," Bensouda further told the court.

However, the trial magistrate stated that counsel never applied to the court for the police to provide the defence with the witness statements, but instead he applied to the court to discharge the accused persons.

Counsel further submitted that even though lawyer LK Mboge did not apply to the court, providing the witness statements to the defence was relevant to the accused persons in the case.

She cited section 24 sub (3) of the constitution, and urged the court to discharge the accused persons or strike out the case for lack of diligent prosecution.

Subsequently, the trial magistrate, in his ruling, ordered the prosecution to provide the defence with all the witness’s statements and documents relating to the case.

However, he overruled the defence application to have the case strike out for lack of diligent prosecution, and adjourned the case till 1st December 2010.

Meanwhile, the trial of former Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie, and two senior military officers, Lt. Colonel Mam Matarr and Major Kuluteh Manneh, could not proceed yesterday before Justice Emmanuel Amadi at the High Court in Banjul.

Prosecutors in the case told the court that their next witness had travelled to the provinces for the Tobaski feast, and was not yet back in Banjul.