By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Following local media reports that National Assembly Member Alagie Sowe was acquitted and discharged by the Basse Magistrates’ Court on Monday July 23rd 2018, as if a decision was made on him and his co-accused persons, the Justice Ministry has issued a statement indicating that the report is inaccurate. According to the statement, the case was withdrawn instead of the accused persons being acquitted and discharged by the said Court.
The release further stated that the Ministry initially advised the Police after their investigations, that there was no evidence to prosecute Alagie Sowe and his co-accused and that the Police withdrew the case. The statement went on to say, “The Ministry assures the general public, that the days of politically motivated prosecutions in The Gambia are over and that the Government of His Excellency President Adama Barrow, is committed to upholding the rule of law and the democratic and fundamental human rights of every Gambian irrespective of their political or other orientation.”
Furthermore, the Ministry wishes to encourage media practitioners and commentators on judicial matters, to take advantage of the Ministry’s open door policy to seek confirmation of their facts, before publications or commentary.
For the benefit of the reader, during a criminal trial, the prosecution may, at any time before delivery of judgment withdraw a case against the accused and the presiding magistrate will discharge the accused. This means that though the charge is removed it can be brought against the accused in the future.
If on the other hand, the trial proceeds to the end and the accused is found not guilty then the court will accordingly acquit and discharge the accused, and the same charge cannot possibly be brought against him/her.