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Soldier jailed for stealing government rice

Jul 19, 2013, 10:08 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The Banjul Magistrates’ Court yesterday convicted and sentenced one Private Lamin Sanneh of the Gambia national army to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

The court also convicted and sentenced one Daniel Balukan, a businessman, to a fine of D10,000, in default to serve one year in prison.

Private Lamin Sanneh and Daniel Balukan were found liable for stealing government rice.

In the same vein, Private Abdoulie Sanyang and Private Modou L. Drammeh were acquitted and discharged of all the charges preferred against them.

The four were earlier in February 2013 arraigned and charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, store breaking and stealing.

In passing the sentence, senior magistrate Lamin Mbai told the court that he had listened to the plea of mitigation by lawyers Emmanuel E. Chime and Marong.

According to him, he had considered the nature of the offence and the circumstance in which it happened, noting that the second accused, Lamin Sanneh, was custodian of the property that did not belong to him.

He said the rice belonged to the Gambia government; so therefore, the rice belongs to Gambians.

Magistrate Mbai added that the second accused had betrayed the trust placed on him by the state as a soldier and neglected his duty to protect the country.

He said some 10 bags of rice were missing, and the only person to hold responsible for what happened was the second accused person, Lamin Sanneh.

“The second accused person is one who should be punished for what he had done,” said the magistrate.

He added that the duty of “PW2” as a police officer was to testify to the best of his knowledge under oath.

“Under the circumstance, I found the evidence of PW2 to be very credible, positive and irresistible and leaves no room for contradiction,” he added.

The Evidence Act, the magistrate went on, did provide that on the question of burden of proof in criminal cases, it was the duty of the prosecution to prove its case against the accused beyond all reasonable doubt, and not for the accused to establish his innocence.

He said it was clear that on the count of stealing, the prosecution did not prove its case against the 1st accused, Abdoulie Sanyang, beyond all reasonable doubt.

As for the second accused, Lamin Sanneh, he had no doubt in his mind that from the evidence of the 4th accused person in relation to the surrounding circumstances of the case, it was the second accused, Lamin Sanneh, who singlehandedly stole the 160 bags of 30 KGS from the government store located at Buckle Street, and sold it to the 4th accused person.

He said based on the evidence before him, he had no doubt in his mind that the 2nd and 4th accused persons never knew each other before the incident.

“I believed that the 4th was duped into believing that the rice he was buying was legitimate,” he said.

He said he had testified in his evidence that he used to buy the same type of rice from the Kanifing depot and when the 2nd accused called him on the phone that he had rice for sale he did not know the rice was stolen by the 2nd accused person, Lamin Sanneh.

“Based on the above, I therefore convict and sentence the 4th accused person to a fine of D10,000 in default to serve one year in prison with hard labour,” the magistrate announced.