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State drops charges against Pristine Consulting officials

Dec 13, 2011, 1:18 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

After nearly one year of a legal battle between the Gambia government and Pristine Consulting, the state yesterday dropped the charges and withdrew the case at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, where the company and its senior officials were on trial.

Known as Pristine Consulting Intelligent Application, the local IT firm, contracted by the government to produce the new biometric national identity card, was dragged to court for breach of contract.

Justice Emmanuel Nkea the presiding judge was informed of the state’s decision to discontinue the case by the Deputy Director of Special Litigations at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Simon Abi.

Abi told the court that the state was applying to withdraw the charges against the three defendants, Pristine Consulting, its Chief Executive Officer Abdourahman Touray, and Assan Touray the Chief Technology Officer of the company.

The state counsel’s application for withdrawal was granted, when the trial judge made a ruling to that effect.

“Having listened to the learned state counsel’s application to have the matter discontinued, and having also heard defence counsel Ida Drammeh’s endorsement, I shall proceed to order as follows:

“That this matter was accordingly struck out and the accused persons herein are hereby discharged; that any document or property hitherto retained from any of the accused therein in connection with the case to be released to them; all previous orders made against the accused persons herein were deemed quashed.”

He ruled that his orders be carried out henceforth, adding that there shall be no further orders.

Readers would recall that the company and its senior staff were charged with two counts of economic crimes, one count of conspiracy and one count of theft.

The charge was that between 20th April 2009 and 10th March 2011, being the persons engaged in the processing of the biometric ID card and other official documents, they produced and sold and intentionally withheld the sum of twenty-seven million, six hundred and one thousand and ninety dalasi, and thereby caused loss to the government.

The accused persons and their company Pristine Consulting were further accused of being the persons engaged by the Gambia government to produce and supply finger scanning machines and accessories, and that they intentionally failed to produce and supply as required and thereby caused an act detrimental to the economy of The Gambia.

Count three stated that between 20th April 2009 and March 2011, the accused persons conspired to deceive the public by printing and selling Gambian biometric ID cards and driving license, residential permits, all of which contained the biometric chip.

A further accusation made against the accused persons and their company stated that Pristine Consulting, Assan Touray and Abdourahman Touray, on 20th April 2009 received on behalf of the government of the Gambia twenty-seven million, six hundred and one thousand and ninety dalasi.