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More Judicial staff testify in Wowo and Jobarteh trial

Sep 12, 2013, 10:29 AM | Article By: Malamin L.M. Conteh

Staff of the judiciary continue to testify in the ongoing criminal trial involving former Chief Justice Joseph Wowo, and former Justice minister Lamin AMS Jobarteh, at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Emmanuel Nkea.

The latest prosecution witness to testify is John Belford, Judicial Secretary, whose testimony came barely 24 hours after Buba Jawo, the Master of the High Court, testified.

Justice Wowo and Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh are being tried on a thirteen-count indictment which include abuse of office, conspiracy to defeat Justiceand interference with witnesses, offences relating to Judicial proceeding, to giving false information, which they had denied.

Belford, the fifth prosecution witness, told the court that he is the Judicial Secretary, and that he knew the 1st accused, and that in December 2012, he was the Chief Justice of The Gambia.

He said at one time Amie Bensouda, said she had a consultancy with an agency, and that she needed some information from the registry.

The registry was headed by the Principal Registrar, Mariama Ceesay, and Ceesay and her team were collecting information for Amie Bensouda, but during the process of collecting the information they were stopped, he said.

“I am not sure of the reason why they were stopped, and the matter was reported, Amie Bensouda, the principal registrar, and one or two staff were arrested and detained at the Banjul Police Station,” Judiciary Secretary added.

The Judicial Secretary disclosed that they spent a day or two before they were released, and after their release, he was instructed to post Mariama Ceesay to the Brikama High Court.

Then a senior registrar to act as the principal registrar, while the registrar at the Brikama High Court should come to Banjul High Court and assist the senior registrar, he added

When asked by the state counsel who instructed him to do so, he said it was the Chief Justice.

John Belford added that he was told that they were collecting more data as requested.

“I was instructed to write to Mariama to explain, which I did, and she explained, and after Mariama came back to Banjul High Court,” he stated.

He added that the instruction of the Chief Justice was verbal, and that he later put it in writing, adding that he would be able to recognise the posting letter of Mariama Ceesay.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Ozuma, the witness stated that he has been serving as Judicial Secretary for three years now.

He maintained that as an administration, if the officer was under investigation, it was correct to transfer that staff.

He said that it was after the transfer of Mariama Ceesay, that he wrote to her to explain, and that at that time her activities were subjected to a police investigation.

The case continues on 18 September 2013.