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Trial of former Gambian diplomat resumes

Apr 13, 2016, 10:17 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The trial of Ousman Badjie, former Gambian Ambassador to France and the erstwhile Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure yesterday resumed before Justice E.O. Dada at the Banjul High Court.

When the case was called, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara announced his representation for the defendant, and state counsel Yusuf represented the state.

Responding to questions from state prosecutor Yusuf, Badjie told the court he had earlier informed the court that Faisal Bojang “meticulously

forged” the signature of the deputy Head of Mission.

At this juncture, he was given an exhibit for him to show the court where it was indicated in the exhibit.

After going through it, Badjie told the court that it was in paragraph 4 of the original French text of the report, and that in the translated version it was in paragraph 4 as well.

“I reported the incident to the police on 20 February 2014, and after that I went back to the Embassy and wrote the Note Verbal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, and addressed it to the Directorate of Diplomatic and Consular matters informing them of the incident, and requesting their support in this particular case and the Note Verbal was submitted as a defence exhibit as well.”

“Will you agree with me that after reporting the incident to the police you waited for 3 months without doing anything more, and that amounted to negligence?” quizzed prosecutor Yusuf.

“My lord I did not agree that there was negligence on my side after reporting the matter to the police; because on 25 February 2014, I sent my report to the permanent secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Banjul informing him of the incident and the action I took after the incident; and I recommended to them to inform the Directorate of National Treasury to report the matter to the Interpol office at police headquarters in Banjul.

“On 12 March 2014, I wrote another letter to the permanent secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Banjul updating him on the situation of the investigation, and I further recommended that he should tell the Director of National Treasury to take action against Faisal Bojang in absentia, and the two letters were submitted as defence exhibits,” Badjie added.

The former Gambian diplomat further stated that it was true that the incident took place in Paris and that, as the then ambassador at the time, he took all the necessary measures locally because Faisal Bojang is a Gambian sent to Paris by the Directorate of National Treasury, and that he thought it was important that actions were taken back home.

Asked whether he took legal action against the bank, Mr Badjie responded that after receiving the police report he called a tribunal in Paris and they referred him to their expert on financial and monetary matters.

He further told the court that in the French system, victims of crimes are advised to call the tribunal for any legal assistance.

He said the expert on financial and monetary matters told him that, according to the French law, they had no case against the bank.

Badjie told the court that he did not sue the bank thereafter, but he referred the matter to Banjul.

Further asked whether he would agree that he engaged the lawyer informally, Badjie disagreed, adding that he was referred to the lawyer by a reputable institution in Paris.

Quizzed again on whether he would be surprised that the same lawyer was working for the same bank, Mr Badjie said it would be a surprise to him.

He added that the lawyer drafted a letter of complaint to the bank for him, and he put the Embassy’s letterhead on it and that the bank reacted to the letter, a copy of which was sent to the authorities back home and another copy was also tendered in court.

“I am putting it to you that from the content of exhibit F, there is no element stopping you from taking legal action against the bank,” prosecutor Yusuf said.

“I don’t pretend to know the French law. I requested the letter of claim to the bank, and it was submitted to the authorities in Banjul for further directives,” answered Badjie.

“Under the French law, you will have to sue the bank,” said the state counsel.

“My work as an ambassador in this case was to seek legal advice, which I did and sent the claim to the bank. They responded, and I forwarded it to the authorities in Banjul,” Badjie said.

“You never engaged any lawyer?” counsel challenged him.

“I engaged the lawyer,” responded Badjie.

At this juncture, the case was adjourned until today for continuation of cross-examination.