The Attorney General’s office wrote to Justice Simeon Abi at the Banjul High Court Complex, that they are reviewing the criminal case of the State versus Ebrima Jawara, Alasan Bah, Sulayman Manneh and Hassan Jallow.
On the 22nd of May, 2017, the case was called before Hon Justice Simeon Abi at the Banjul High Court Complex.
Once again the State was not present but they delivered a letter to the Honourable Judge, explaining their absence. According to the letter, the Attorney General’s Chambers was seeking an adjournment of 3 weeks, to enable them finalize a review of the case. This makes it the 4th consecutive time that the case has failed to proceed since it was mentioned before Justice Abi on 28 March 2017.
Mr Jawara, the first accused was represented by C E Mene. Counsels for Dr Alasan Bah, Mr Sulayman Manneh and Mr. Hassan Jallow, second, third and fourth accused respectively, were absent. Also absent in court was the 4th Accused person, Mr. Hassan Jallow.
For the second time in as many weeks, C E Mene cited the lack of seriousness by the State to prosecute this case and applied for it to be either struck out for lack of diligent prosecution, or for the Court to foreclose the prosecution’s case.
Mr. Mene informed the court that since the case was heard over a year ago, it was still at the stage of cross-examination of the State’s first prosecution witness. Counsel Mene argued that, should the Court foreclose the State’s case, then the evidence of the first and yet to be discharged witness, would have to be expunged; that consequently, there would be no evidence before the court and the case would have to be dismissed.
C E Mene also cited the Constitutional rights of the accused persons to a fair and speedy trial.
Hon Justice Abi in his ruling, recognised the rights of the accused persons to a speedy trial, but also took note of the fact that the Attorney General’s Chambers had sent a letter, explaining their absence. For the second time, Justice Abi declined Counsel Mene’s application to have the case dismissed.
The judge adjourned the case for the 3-week period requested by the State, to the 12th of June 2017, when the Prosecution should have completed their review of the case and be ready to proceed, failing which the court would be moved by defence Counsels’ applications on that day.
Ebrima Jawara is a former Permanent Secretary at the office of the President and he is the son of Gambia’s first president, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Dr Alasan Bah is a former Project Coordinator of the Rural Finance Project, Sulayman Manneh is a former Accountant of the Rural Finance Project and Hassan Jallow is a former Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture.
Readers would recall that a 32 count bill of indictment was served on the accused persons in March 2016, and this included stealing, destruction of evidence, economic crimes and abuse of office, neglect of official duty, fraud and disobedience to statutory duty.