By Mamadou Dem
The fraud case involving Yusupha Saidy, a Gambian businessman, yesterday, 10 February, 2016 commenced at the magistrates’ court in Banjul with the evidence of prosecution first witness, Babucarr Jeng, a police officer attached to the fraud squad office at police headquarters in Banjul
Testifying before Magistrate Abdoulie Fatty of the lower court in Banjul, the witness said he recognised the accused person, Yusupha Saidy, who was brought to their office on the 20th January this year to obtain a cautionary statement from the accused. He adduced that before obtaining the cautionary statement, he read the cautionary wordings to the accused in English and the accused recorded his own statement in English too.
When asked by prosecutor Sub inspector Alpha Badgie whether at the time of obtaining the statements, they were the only two present, he responded in the negative, adding that it was in the presence of one Babucarr Sonko, an independent witness.
According to the fraud officer, the accused thumb printed his statement, but he did not sign it on the grounds that there was a portion where he should sign as a recording officer but that he only wrote his name.
The witness added that he could recognise the said statement if shown to him. He was then shown a document which he confirmed is the one he obtained from the accused.
However, the said statement was not admitted in evidence as an exhibit, despite the prosecution’s application to tender it. This is because of the fact that the defence is yet to disclose their position on the admissibility of the said statement until the next adjourned date and after which the defence applied for the prosecution to supply them with all the necessary documents relating to the case, including the said cautionary statement.
The defence lawyer argued that the trial does not mean an ambush, adding that it is the constitutional right of the accused person to know the necessary documents that are to be used by the prosecution during the trial. He cited section 24 of the 1997 Constitution which he said guarantees the accused person to be avail with enough time and facility in preparation of his defence.
Barrister Tambadou further argued that they have passed the likelihood of the accused interfering with prosecution witnesses which he said, was supposed to be raised during arraignment or bail application of the accused. “We are now at the stage of the trial and I urge the court to grant the application,” he submitted.
Reacting to the defence’s submission, the prosecuting officer vehemently objected to the application on the basis that the lower court is a trial by summary and that it is not incumbent on the prosecution to provide the documents to the defence.
Prosecutor Badgie argued that giving all the statements and materials which the prosecution intends to use would tantamount to giving license to the accused to interfere with the prosecution witnesses.
In his ruling, the trial magistrate ordered the prosecution to furnish the defence with the necessary documents they intend to use during the trial in order to enable them to prepare for their defence.
Hearing continues on 23rd of February, 2016.
It would be recalled that Mr. Saidy is standing trial on two criminal counts of ‘Conspiracy to commit a felony and obtaining money by false pretence’ contrary to the laws of The Gambia. He denied any wrong doing and was released on bail since 12th January this year.