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'Justice delayed is justice denied,' as lawyer Mboge trial progresses

Feb 28, 2011, 11:38 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The trial of lawyer Lamin K. Mboge, a former magistrate and senior member of the Gambia Bar Association resumed Friday at the Banjul Magistrates' Court before acting-Principal Magistrate Alagba.

Mboge was arraigned by the state prosecutors on four counts, including making false documents without authority, false swearing, and uttering false documents, which he has denied.

When the case resumed, the presiding magistrate challenged both parties to expedite the hearing, saying that "justice delayed is justice denied".

Principal Magistrate Taiwo Alabge's comments followed argument that ensued between the defence and the prosecution, during cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, when the chief prosecutor challenged the questions posed by the lead defence counsel A.A. Gaye.

Testifying for the prosecution led by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mikailu Abdullahi, was Sub-Inspector Foday Makalo, an officer attached to the fraud squad unit of the Gambia Police Force.

Makalo said under cross-examination that there were occasions, in his presence, when one Saikou Barrow wanted the accused to withdraw an application from the court.

Makalo also told the court that, in his presence, the accused person brought a letter of withdrawal of the said application to the court. This was in answer to another question by the defence, represented by counsel Antouman Gaye, L.S. Camara and B.S. Touray.

Sub-Inspector Makalo also adduced under cross-examination that Saikou Barrow was not satisfied with the said letter of withdrawal, purportedly brought by the accused person, adding that he was not satisfied, because the said letter was not sealed.

At this juncture, senior counsel Gaye rose and intended to apply for the said letter of withdrawal of application to be tendered, but later withdrew his application following strong objection by the chief prosecutor.

"Look at exhibit B, the cautionary statement of the accused person. It was in your evidence that you cautioned the accused person. Can you tell the court which time this statement was taken," A.A .Gaye asked the witness, who said that he could not remember the time.

When asked who was at the office at the time of obtaining the accused person's statement, the witness said it was himself, the independent witness, and the accused person.

"I am putting it to you that, what actual happened in your office at the  fraud squad, was that you gave the accused a blank white form, and told him that, "you are a lawyer, you know how to write a cautionary statement."

In reply, the witness agreed with what the counsel said.

However, the witness insisted that he cautioned lawyer Mboge, when defence counsel told him that he never cautioned his client.

He said one Lamin Owens was the independent witness, who is a businessman residing at Bundung. This was in response to further questions by counsel A.A Gaye.

Asked what Lamin Owens came to do at the police fraud squad, the officer said before a packed courtroom that Owens came to visit a relative at the office.

At this stage, the defence counsel reminded the court that it was time for Friday prayers, and that it was not favorable to proceed, and craved the indulgence of the court to adjourn the case, so that he could continue his cross examination.

Hearing continues.