By Yankuba Jallow
The over 3-year criminal trial involving four (4) employees of Manor Real Estate Company has suffered another delay again. On Monday, 15 January 2024, the case was supposed to come but it was delayed because the trial magistrate had a 2-weeks leave. The case has now been adjourned to 28 February 2024 for the continuation of the trial.
Most of the courts at the Brikama Magistrate’s Court have not been active recently as some of the magistrates have not been coming. Also, the courts that open do not sit as expected. We will be bringing comprehensive reports around the courts after our findings.
This is one of several other cases that suffer delay due to one reason or the other for some years without any ending. People have to go to court for years without any progress in their cases in The Gambia.
For the two victims in this case, they won’t give up in their pursuit of justice. The victims are Alagie Jobe and Yoba Jallow.
This is a case that passed through several magistrates and it has been handled by different police prosecutors. Despite this, only one witness had testified in this case.
The incident was about the demolition exercise that ensued on 22 October 2020, in which the victims’ houses in the area were razed. During the encounter, the victims suffered serious injuries, which they are still nursing. The police were involved and the matter was taken to court. Since 2021, only one witness testified in the case. It suffered several delays and long adjournments.
The case involves the Inspector General of Police against Yaya Gomez, Alasana Camara, Musa Minteh and Modou Ceesay. They allegedly caused injuries to Yoba Jallow, a resident of Bafuloto Nema-su and Alagie Jobe, also from the same place. The alleged incident left the two victims with serious bodily harm.
Yoba Jallow, a soldier was hospitalised and after an x-ray scanning, it was confirmed that his left midshaft tibia and fibula were fractured. Yoba has been nursing his injuries since then and struggling to go to court.
Foroyaa obtained the records of the case to look into the progress of the case and the delays it suffered.
On 10 February 2021, the accused persons were admitted on bail by the court. Each was asked to bring two Gambian sureties, who shall each deposit their national biometric identity cards with the registrar of the court.
The case came on 22 February 2021 and the court began hearing the testimony of prosecution witness one, Alagie Jobe, also a victim of the incident. Witness Jobe narrated the incident in detail as to how he was victimised and also what he witnessed about the victimisation of Yoba Jallow.
The case came on 8 March 2021 but it could not proceed. It came up on 22 March 2021 and this time it proceeded. On this day, three (3) pictures showing his injuries were admitted into evidence by court. On the same day, the witness concluded his evidence and the defence counsel began cross-examining him. It was adjourned to 7 April 2021 for the continuation of the cross-examination. When the day came, the case could not proceed and it was adjourned to 7 May 2021. On 7 May 2021, the case proceeded and the defence lawyer continued with the cross-examination of the witness. It was adjourned further to 14 June 2021 for the continuation of cross-examination. When the day came the case did not proceed and it was adjourned to 7 July 2021. When the date came the case could not proceed. It was adjourned to 14 July 2021 and on this day, the case proceeded with the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness. It was adjourned to 19 July but when the day was due, it was adjourned to 12 August 2021. The case came on 12 August 2021, but it could not proceed because the accused persons did not come. On this day, the prosecuting officer, Corporal 4905 Bangura made an interesting statement before the court. He said: “Prosecution Witness One is sick and has abandoned everything to come to court.” The police prosecutor made an application for an arrest warrant to be issued by the court against the accused persons saying it was the second consecutive time they did not come to court. The court adjourned the case to 26 August 2021 and on this day, the case did not proceed. It came on 8 September 2021 and it proceeded with the cross-examination of the prosecution witness. The defence counsel concluded his cross-examination of the witness. The case came on 29 September 2021 and also on 13 October 2021, but it did not proceed. It was adjourned to 3 November 2021 and 22 December. It came on 19 January 2022 and 9 March 2022.
We will stop here with the dates of adjournments and indicate that the case could not proceed until 2024. There were adjournments for different reasons including the absence of the prosecuting officers and at times the accused persons did not come. Most of the adjournments were at the instance of the defence. On 1 June 2022, Police Sergeant 2647 B. Fatty applied to the court to get the accused persons arrested, but his alication was turned down by the court.
The last day they appeared in court was 24 October 2023 and the case did not proceed with the claim that Yaya Gomez, the first accused person was sick. The case was adjourned for almost three months, on 15 January 2024 to be precise. When it came on 15 January, the Magistrate was absent and they had taken over one month’s adjournment. The new date is 28 February 2024 at 12:30 pm for the continuation of the hearing.
Foroyaa is monitoring the case.