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Prosecutor Replies to Defense Counsel's Address in Dutch National's Case

Jan 27, 2009, 5:00 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Following the address by the defense counsel, Badou Conteh in defense of Marc Maurice Alfred Van Maldegem, Cadet Inspector Mballow has replied. Mr. Maldegem is the operations manager at Kombo Beach Hotel and is currently involved in a criminal case at the Kanifing Magistrates' Court before acting Principal Magistrate Sainabou Wadda-Ceesay.

In his reply, Cadet Inspector Mballow stated that the prosecution, in order to prove a prima facie case against the accused person, called five witnesses and tendered documents and items which were admitted and marked as exhibits P1-P9 respectively. He indicated that at the end of the prosecution's case, the defense opted to submit a no case pursuant to section 166 of the criminal procedure code, laws of The Gambia 1990.

"For the court to uphold a no-case submission, it may properly be made and upheld when there has been no evidence to prove an essential element in the alleged offence," he adduced. He stated that the prosecution's witnesses were credible. He went on to summarize the testimonies of all the prosecution's witnesses.

"The prosecution has established a prima facie case against the accused. I am referring the court to exhibits P1 and P2, which have established the mental element of the offence on both the two counts," he noted.

Cadet Inspector Mballow further stated that the accused had nothing to do with room 110 administratively but his entire act was purely personal because the management never instructed him to do so for the hotel. He argued that whether or not the police gave a notice to all the hotel staff to put an eye on Charles Northfield was irrelevant.

"The pertinent thing was that Charles Northfield was undergoing trial at the high court and had absconded.

"There are two cardinal principles in the dispensation of justice system, which are substantive and administrative" he stated.

He added, "what was substantive was that the accused did conspire with others at large to defeat the course of justice by communicating with Charles Northfield and knowingly prevented the execution of a legal process by communicating with Charles Northfield who had absconded from trial and entered his room". He challenged that whether or not there was any restriction on Charles Northfield during his stay in the hotel by the police falls under the administrative justice system and could not be relied on to supercede the substantive one.

He submitted that the prosecution's witness testimonies were cogent and credible for any court to rely upon for conviction and that their pieces of evidence were in equivocally corroborated and the defence by its vigorous discredit or contradicts any of their evidence.

At this juncture, he cited some authorities to support his argument.

He further stated that the accused did communicate with others at large to commit the offence, among those was the very Charles Northfield. "Throughout the case it was nowhere stated that the removal of the items from room 110 was for it to be available for use by other hotel guests," he noted.

In conclusion, Cadet Inspector Mballow urged the court to hold that the prosecution has made a prima facie case sufficient to warrant the accused to enter his defence. The essential elements of the offence charged, he argued, were before the court in support of the charges. He urged the court to rule.

The case was adjourned to the 6thFebruary 2009 for ruling.

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