Supreme Court passes verdict on Lang Tombong, Sarjo Fofana Appeal


By Rohey Jadama The supreme court of the Gambia, presided over by a panel of fiveLang and Sarjor judges headed by the Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan, has granted the appeal of ex- commander of the naval staff, Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana, who was acquitted and discharged on all the four counts, while Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), is discharged on counts 1 and 2, while counts 3 and 4 were reaffirmed.Delivering the ruling in a crowded court room, Justice Gibou Janneh said that Tamba and Fofana were charged with conspiracy and treason at the Banjul high court and at the close of the prosecution’s case, the counsels filed a “no case to answer” which was dismissed by the presiding Judge, J.E Ikpala, who ordered the accused persons to enter their defence and upon which they were convicted. He said the appellants appealed to the court of appeal which affirmed their conviction. Justice Janneh said the appellants were not happy with this decision which led them to appeal to the Supreme Court. He said the ingredients to look for are that whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant the appellants to be convicted. He said the trial judge wrote that Mr. Yaya Darboe (PW5) was not on oath and was a hostile witness. “Upon realizing that PW5 was not on oath should have excluded his evidence rather than relying on it to convict the appellants. The trial judge was speculative in his conclusion and wrongly allowed Mr. Darboe to testify, he was neither sworn nor exempted as provided for in the Evidence Act”, ruled Justice Janneh. He said there is no evidence connecting the two of the offences in count 1 and 2 and THAT the trial judge wrongly relied on exhibit C to convict the appellants. He continued “Therefore I allow the appeal and accordingly acquits and discharge the appellants on counts 1 and 2.” He added that Fofana is also acquitted and discharged on counts 3 and 4, while the appeal of Tamba on counts 3 and 4 is dismissed and reaffirmed by the court. The other judges in the panel associated themselves with the verdict delivered by the Justice Janneh. However, the Chief Justice did not agree to discharging of Tamba on counts 1 and 2. After the delivery of the verdict amidst a filled up courtroom by the family members of the appelants, the two were led away in hand cuffs and leg shackles to a waiting vehicle. Some of their relatives were seen crying as the two waved at them in the presence of a crowd of sympathisers and onlookers. Earlier, Lang Tombong and Sarjo Fofana were found guilty on all four counts of treason related charges regarding the 2006 foiled coup plot. The presiding judge sentenced Tamba and Fofana as follows: 20 years for conspiracy, 20 years for treason and 10 years for each of the two counts of concealment of treason and which were to run concurrently.]]>