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In Ex-Religion Affairs PS Case

Oct 2, 2009, 4:38 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Defence Objection Overruled

The Principal Magistrate at the Banjul Magistrates' Court, Emmanuel Nkea, yesterday overruled the defence counsel's objection in the case of Mr. Alasana S.T. Jammeh, former Permanent Secretary responsible of Religious Affairs.

Mr. Jammeh is standing trial for allegedly giving false information to Hajj Panel Commission that he had received directives from the Office of the President to select Inter-Continental Airways to transport pilgrims during the 2008 Hajj period, a charge he has invariably denied.

Defence Counsel Lamin Jobarteh during the last sittings raised an objection that considering the present charge sheet, the court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Magistrate Danso of the Banjul Magistrate earlier discharged Mr. Jammeh for non-compliance with court orders on the side of the prosecution, only to be recharged later, with the same words with the preceding one. There was a court order for the prosecution to furnish the court with the name(s) of the person(s) to whom the alleged false information was given.

Lawyer Jobarteh argued that if the court goes ahead to hear the case it would amount to an abuse of court process.

Shortly after reading the charge sheet, the prosecution applied for the court to subpoena its witnesses to appear in court, to which Defence Counsel Jobarteh raised an objection that the issue of subpoena was premature, since there was nothing before the court to warrant that.

In delivery his ruling, Magistrate Nkea stated that the defence counsel had addressed the court on two issues; requesting the court to decline jurisdiction and to refuse the prosecution's application for the Subpoena of the said public official.

He added that after read through the submission carefully he found out that it is not uncommon or unknown for the prosecution to press fresh charges against an accused person who has previously been discharged for the same offence.

He added that the only exception would be where the accused person was discharged on the merits of the case, and this was not the case in this particular case, he would uphold that the defence objection lacks merits.

He noted that considering the fact that the alleged information was given to State officials, (members of the Hajj panel), he finds it that it would be proper in the circumstances to fast track their attendance in this court by issuing a subpoena from the above.

He said: "I find that it would be proper in the circumstances to fast track their attendance in this court by issuing a subpoena from the above. I hold that this court has the jurisdiction to hear and proceed with the matter, and that the charge does not amount to an abuse of court process.

"I also hereby order that subpoenas be served on the Members of the Hajj Panel to appear before this court and give evidence in the trial," he concluded.

However the prosecutor in the case, Chief Inspector Badjie informed court that the prosecution's witnesses were this time in court, but as they were informed that the magistrates will be proceeding on meetings at the High Court, so they were asked to go home.

The case Adjourned to 7thOctober 2009 for trial.