Court Acquits Former Gam Petroleum Managers on Economic Crime Charges

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By Yankuba Jallow

Former General Manager Saihou Drammeh and erstwhile Operations Manager Lamin Gassama of Gam Petroleum Storage Facility Company (GP) were on Thursday 28th July 2022, were acquitted and discharged by the Banjul High Court on all eight criminal charges they were accused of, including economic crime charges.

The two were alleged to have been involved in causing monetary losses to the Company amounting to over twenty million US dollars, and their charges ranged from “economic crimes”, “stealing by clerk or servant” and “directors and officers of corporations or companies fraudulently appropriating property or keeping fraudulent accounts.” They both denied any wrongdoing when the charges were read to them on the day they were arraigned. 

In trying proving its case beyond all reasonable doubts, the prosecution called twelve witnesses prior to announcing the closure of their case on the 23rd of June 2022.

Upon closing their case, Barrister Christopher E. Mene, attorney for both accused persons made a ‘no case to answer submission’ and succeeded in gaining the freedom of his clients.

In her ruling on the ‘no case to answer submission,’ the trial Judge said a ‘no case to answer submission’ can succeed based on the following reasons:

a) when there has been no evidence to prove an essential element of a crime; a) when an evidence adduced by the prosecution has been so discredited as a result of cross-examination; c) when an evidence is so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal can safely convict on it; and d) when an evidence is evenly balanced in the sense that it was susceptible to two likely explanation: one consistent with guilt and the other with innocence.

Justice Cecilia Roche said when the evidence of the prosecution does not meet the standard required by law, the Judge must stop the case and discharge the accused persons. She added that for submission of “no case to answer”, the Judge must be satisfied that no prima facie evidence was made against the accused persons. She explained that a prima facie case is made when the evidence by the prosecution is not contradicted and is believed to be sufficient to prove a case against the accused person.

The Judge then discharged and acquitted both accused persons for lack of prima facie evidence linking them to the crimes as alleged by the prosecution, and that the elements of the crimes as alleged were not established by the prosecution. She added that the “no case” submission succeeded. Drammeh and Gassama are now free of all charges in respect of this case.

The team of lawyers that represented them were Lawyers Christopher E. Mene, Paulin Bakurin, Badou S.M. Conteh and Sasum Sillah.

Foroyaa will publish full details of the ruling in subsequent editions.