By Rohey Jadama
Lawyer A.M. Yusuf, a state counsel, has continued with the cross-examination of Mr. Ousman Badjie, the former Gambian Ambassador to France and the erstwhile Minister of works, Construction and Infrastructure, before Justice E.O. Dada of the Banjul High Court.
When the case was called yesterday, 12 April, 2016, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara announced his representation for the defendant.
Responding to questions from prosecutor Yusuf, Badjie said he had earlier informed the court that Faisal Bojang meticulously forged the signature of the deputy head of mission.
At this stage, he was given exhibit S by the prosecutor for him to show the court where this was indicated in the said document.
After going through it, Mr. Badjie told the court that it is in paragraph 4 of the original French text of the report and that in the translated version it is also in paragraph 4.
“I reported the incident to the police on the 20th of 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 I address it to the directorate of diplomatic and consular matters informing them of the incident and requesting their support in this particular case and this Note Verbal was submitted as a defence exhibit as well,” said the former Gambian Ambassador to France.
“Will you agree with me that after reporting the incident to the police you waited for 3 months without doing anything more and that amounts to negligence?” asked prosecutor Yusuf. “My lord I did not agree that there was negligence on my side after reporting the matter to the police because on the 25th of 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 them to inform the directorate of national treasury to report the matter to the Interpol office at the police headquarters in Banjul”, responded Mr.Badjie.
Mr. Badjie continued that on the 12th March, 2014, he wrote another letter to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Banjul updating him on the situation of the investigation and he further recommended to him to inform the director of national treasury to take action against Faisal Bojang in absentia and that the two letters are submitted as defence exhibits.
The former Gambian Ambassador said it is true that the incident took place in Paris but that as the then ambassador, he took all the necessary measures at the local level since Faisal Bojang is a Gambian civil servant posted to Paris by the directorate of national treasury and that he thought it was important that actions are taken here back home.
When 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 which 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 French law, they have no case against the bank. He said he did not sue the bank thereafter but had referred the matter to Banjul.
When asked whether he will agree that he engaged the lawyer informally, Badjie disagreed, adding that he was referred to the lawyer by a reputable institution in Paris.
When also asked whether he will be surprised to be informed that the said lawyer was working for the same bank, Mr. Badjie responded in the positive. He added that the lawyer drafted a letter of complaint to the bank for him and that he puts the embassy’s letterhead on it and to which the bank reacted and a copy sent to the authorities back home. The said copy was also tendered in court.
“I’m putting it to you that from the content of exhibit F there is no element stopping you from taking legal action against the Bank?” said the prosecutor. “I don’t pretend to know the French law, I requested the letter of claim to the bank and it was submitted to authorities in Banjul for further directives,” said Mr. Badjie.
“Under the French law you would have sued the Bank?” He answered, “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.”
Counsel asked, “You never engaged any Lawyer?” He responded, “I engaged the Lawyer.”
At this juncture, the case was adjourned to today Wednesday 13 April, 2016 for continuation of cross-examination.