May 13, 2009, 7:21 AM
Fatou Lily Drammeh, the Master of the High Court yesterday, convicted and sentenced six former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) operatives to four years in prison with hard labour.
Lamin Drammeh, Basiru Jabang, Kajali Jawara, Lamin Sanneh, Fabakary Barrow and Salimina Drammeh, all former NIA operatives, were convicted on four counts of conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and criminal trespass.
The case, which lasted for six years, saw the prosecution call ten witnesses to prove their case against the convicted persons.
The convicts were sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour on count one, four years with hard labour on count two, three years with hard labour on count three and the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th convicts were sentenced to one year in prison with hard labour on count four, while the 2nd and 6th convicts were acquitted on count four.
All sentences would run concurrently.
In her judgment, the Master of the High Court, told the court that the prosecution had proved their case beyond any reasonable doubt, and that she found the accused persons guilty.
Mitigating on behalf of the convicted persons, lawyer Chime told the court that the convicts were first-time offenders.
He pleaded that they had already suffered some hardship, and the court should see to it that the convicts were reformed.
"Taking them to Mile 2 will not serve a good purpose in the sense that they will be with hardened prisoners," counsel Chime told the court.
Chime posited that the convicts have done a lot to provide services to the state.
He added that the convicts had lost their jobs, and they have families and have been subjected to enough punishment.
"They will reform to be good citizens if they are not given a custodial sentence," Chime pleaded with the court, and urged the court not to impose a custodial sentence on the convicted persons.
Lawyer Combeh Gaye, in her mitigation plea on behalf of the convicted persons, told the court that all the convicts are married men, and have children that depend on them for their survival.
"Giving them a custodial sentence will mean taking them from their families, and this will cause hardship," she appealed to the court.
She added that the hardship the convicts had gone through was enough punishment.
Lawyer Gaye went on to say that the convicts had lost their respect, since they have been convicted.
She urged the court to use its discretion not to give the convicts a custodial sentence, and to impose fines on them.
The state counsel rose to say that this was a serious offence, adding that the convicted persons were in a position of trust. She said she would leave the sentence with the court.
The Master of the High Court consequently gave them each a custodial sentence with hard labour.
The particulars of offence on count one stated that the convicts conspired to commit an offence.
Count two revealed that on 23rd June 2003, in Room F15 at Senegambia Beach Hotel, the convicts stole from one German national, Dr Frank Mahler, the sum of $205,600, D1,100, Siemens mobile phone and eight diamond stones.
Count three, indicated that the, convicts on 28th June, 2003, at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, being employed in public service by the NIA, abused the authority of their office and carried out arbitrary acts prejudicial to the rights of Dr Frank Mahler and Niklas Wastphal.
Count four read that the convicts on 23rd June 2003, at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, entered a property in the possession of another with intent to intimidate two German nationals, Dr Frank Mahler and Niklas Westphal.