Late Yabinta’s Jarju Taxi Driver Freed Prosecution intends to appeal


By Rohey Jadama Magistrate Patrick Gomez of Kanifing Magistrates Court yesterday, 16thBinta Jarju June 2015, acquitted and discharged Mustapha Njie, the driver of the taxi vehicle in which Binta Jarju was shot and killed. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) was represented by ASP Mballowwhile Lawyer Edward Gomez announced his appearance for the accused person. Mr. Njie was charged with four counts of failure to stop when required to stop, disobedience to lawful orders, rash or negligent act causing death, and unlicensed driving. He pleaded guilty to counts one and four and denied counts two and three. Delivering the judgement in a crowded court room, the trial magistrate said the prosecution must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. He said the prosecution called six witnesses and tendered exhibits to prove its case. Magistrate Gomez said both the defence  and the prosecution addressed the court and that the former relied heavily on the authopsy report, whilst the latter relied on 7 authorities. He said the accused in his testimony mentioned that he failed to stop at the check point. He said the ingredients to look for in convicting the accused are whether death occured ? Did the accused cause the death ? and did his negligence and action cause the death ? He added that the prosecution bears a heavy burden to convince the court that the accused caused the death. Magistrate Gomez  further said that the prosecution did not state that the driver was posing a danger or threat to them or the community. He said the officers made a voluntary shot and that there was no threat to them nor the community and that the autopsy report states that the cause of death is head injury due to gunshot. The trial magistrate said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused caused the death of late Yabinta Jarju. He therefore ruled that the accused is acquitted and discharged on count  3 and found guilty on count 2. However, before the plea of mitigation of the lawyer for the accused, ASP Mballow informed the court of their intention to appeal against the acquital and discharge of the accused on count 3. Prosecutor Mballow said section 285 (E) of the Criminal Procedure Code(CPC) gives them the right to appeal. He asked the court to grant bail to the accused pending their appeal. In his plea of mitigation, Lawyer Gomez,  counsel for the accused, urged the court to take into account the following : that the accused was driving a vehicle at a time he was not in possession of a driving License  nor wearing a seat belt ; that he was confronted by security officers with weapons which frigthened his mind as it happened after the abortive coup ; that there was fear in the minds of the people and that there were numerous check points in the Greater Banjul Area. Barrister Gomez added that the fleeing of the accused from the officers was not to disregard what those officers were set to do. He said the accused was remanded throughout the trial in Mile Two and that during his remand period he has known the gravity of his offence and he will make sure there is no repetition of it again. He said the accused is a first time offender and that premised on the above, he is humbly  and sincerely urging the court to temper justice with mercy and that when the court considers any form of punishment let it not impose a custodial sentence on him but a fine that is not excessive and punitive. The trial magistrate in his judgment said in line with the application of the prosecution, bail is granted to the accused in the sum of D50.000 and the convict is ordered to produce two Gambian sureties. In sentencing the accused on count 2 and after having considered the mitigation plea of the defence counsel, the trial magistrate said the 6 months imprisonment of the accused is suspended but that when he commits an offence within these six months he will be called upon to serve the term. He ordered that the accused is to maintain the peace during the six months. Count one states that the accused, Mustapha Njie, on March 2015 at Manjai in the Kanifing Municipality and diverse places in The Gambia, was stopped at a security vehicle checkpoint by police officers in uniform, but he refused to stop and drove away. Count two stated that the accused on the same date and place was ordered to stop at a security vehicle checkpoint by police officers in uniform, which order he disobeyed. Count three added that the accused on the same date and place drove his motor vehicle, registration number BJL 7039G, in a rash or negligent manner, causing the death of one Binta Jarju. Count four stated that the accused on the same date and place drove a motor vehicle, registration number BJL 7039G, without a valid license.]]>