By Rohey Jadama and Mamadou Dem
Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay of the Banjul High Court has yesterday 28 February, 2017 discharged former Director General of GRTS and erstwhile Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs Mr. Momodou Sabally for lack of diligent prosecution by the State.
When the case was called Lawyer Lamin S. Camara announced his representation for the defendant, while the prosecution was not represented.
At this stage Barrister Camara, argued that the indictment now before the court is a repeat of the previous indictment for which the accused was standing trial and proceedings was withdrawn by way of nolle prosequi against the accused persons.
He continued: “Up to date the prosecution has not proceeded with this and his fate continues to hang indefinitely. Additionally his liberty is at stake as a result of the indictment. This is totally unacceptable because it is an infringement of the accused person’s right to fair trial”.
Defence Counsel Camara argued that in that circumstance, he is compelled to apply for the charges to be struck out in its entirety for lack of diligent prosecution and the accused person be discharged.
“If the prosecution is minded to come back we will be waiting”, he submitted.
In her ruling the presiding Judge held that every person has a right to the protection of the law and the right to be accorded a fair hearing within reasonable time as enshrined in section 24(1)(B) of the 1997 constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.
Justice Saho-Ceesay recalled that this matter has been adjourned for hearing on two occasions. She said on the first occasion the state failed to proceed on the grounds that directives were being sought.
“They were obliged and the matter was adjourned to today for hearing. The state is unrepresented at today’s hearing. Justice of the matter demands that it be struck out for want of diligent prosecution and it is hereby struck out. The accused person as a consequence is accordingly discharged”, ruled Justice Saho-Ceesay.
Readers could recall that Mr. Sabally was standing trial on six criminal charges ranging from economic crime, abuse of office, neglect of official duty and giving false information. However, he denied culpability of these charges levied again him.