#Article (Archive)

Ousman Badjie trial: Defence faults prosecution’s case

Mar 26, 2015, 9:58 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Defence counsel L.S. Camara yesterday told the court that the prosecution had woefully failed to make a prima facie case against former Minister of Works, Ousman Badjie, accused of four counts of economic crime and negligence, before Justice Abi of the Banjul High Court.

Making his no-case-to-answer submission, Camara said the accused was charged with four counts of various offences, ranging from two counts of economic crimes to two counts of negligence.

He said it was alleged in count one that the accused willfully neglected to perform his duty, which caused 27,500 Euro loss, while the accused was at the time Gambia’s ambassador to France.

He said the allegation in count two, which is also economic crime, as in count one, alleged that the accused caused the loss of 34,333,00 Euros to the Gambia government through Faisal Bojang, who was a financial attaché.

In count three and four, which is negligence to official duty, it was alleged that the accused failed in his duty to follow up the balance, being monies paid without authorization to Faisal Bojang.

Counsel added that what the prosecution needed to prove against the accused at the moment is a prima facie case.

He said the prosecution was bound to prove the accused’s willful negligence in count one and two, and that it was that negligence which caused the losses of D27,500 Euros and 34,333,00 Euros to the Gambia government.

In count three and four, the prosecution must prove that the accused had an obligation, and that the accused abdicated that responsibility, which led to the loss.

These are the main issues of the offences charged, counsel said, adding that in an effort to prove their case at this stage, the prosecution called three witnesses: Gibril Mendy, Alhajie Manneh and Malick Sillah.

“I submit that all the witnesses have testified to what they know about the case, but none of the witnesses ascribed any responsibility of the accused person in respect of the charges against him,” he said.

Mendy in his testimony said he was a retired director of National Treasury, and briefly told the court about the functions of the financial attaché and how Faisal Bojang went to take over as financial attaché.

Mendy told the court that a handing-over report was prepared and signed by him, Mrs Sock and the financial attaché, and upon returning to The Gambia, he (the witness) prepared a report and submitted it to the Ministry of Finance.

The witness was “a very important witness” of the prosecution, counsel told the court.

He added that cross-examination was important, to know that the issues that formed the basis were clearly and categorically answered by Mendy.

When the witness was asked who Faisal Bojang was answerable to, he said Faisal was answerable to the deputy head of mission, and he stated the difference between the deputy head of mission and the head of chancery.

Mendy further told the court he was familiar with the Foreign Service Regulations (FSR), and that under the FSR, the financial attaché is answerable to the deputy head of mission.

Mendy further told the court that it was the deputy head of mission who is responsible for the finances and that Faisal Bojang was answerable to the deputy head, counsel further submitted.

He added that under the FSR, the head of chancery has the supervisory authority over the financial attache and, in the case of France, where there was no head of chancery, the deputy head of mission is responsible.

Counsel Camara also cited the testimonies of Manneh and Sillah, adding that exhibit D1 and D2 did not concern the period in question, had no bearing on the period in question, and had nowhere reported responsibility of the accused person.

He said the exhibits did not say anywhere in its entire content that the accused had responsibility over Faisal Bojang, and that he also abdicated his responsibility and was found wanting anywhere.

He said page six of the exhibit said that efforts should be made to trace Faisal Bojang for the missing funds.

“I submit further that assuming without concealing that there is something incriminating in exhibit C, D and D1, this honorable court is enjoined not even to look at that,” he said.

“The rhetorical question one needed to ask is: where is the negligence of the accused person that caused economic loss in count 3 and 4 and how did he abdicate that responsibility?”

He said the consistent evidence before the court that the accused person had no obligation under the FSR, and that Faisal Bojang was answerable to the deputy head of mission; hence it was his submission that the prosecution had “woefully failed” to demonstrate that it was the accused’s responsibility to make sure none of that happened.

“The witness testified copiously that the culprit Faisal Bojang is not answerable to the accused person, and the accused’s responsibility is different from that of the deputy head of mission,” the defence lawyer submitted.

“If these conditions are anything to go by, I submit to enjoin the court to hold that the prosecution has failed woefully to prove a prima facie case against the accused, and we enjoin the court to uphold the no-case-to-answer submission.”

This case continues today.