By Halimatou Ceesay
A lawyer representing former director general of the Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, who is accused with others of killing former UDP Organising Secretary Solo Sandeng, has criticised the frequent addition of witnesses to the case by the prosecution.
Emmanuel Chime raised the concerns following attempts by state prosecutors to called on Seedy Saidybah, as an additional witness in the case.
He said the intention of parliament as it concerns the calling of the additional witnesses under section 234 of the Criminal Procedure Code is that the witness to be added to the substantive witness list shall not be more than one.
He added: “On 10th November 2017 the state filed a list of witnesses on the substantive list and on 29th January 2018, a further additional witnesses were filed. It is my humble submission that the act of accepting more than one additional witness to the substantive witness list is null and void and that the procedure on which the additional witness is predicated upon is bad in law and act.”
“It is therefore my humble submission that the prosecution witnesses in the substantive list were itemised after the investigation was completed. Additional witnesses being presently called are prejudicial to the case of the defence and more particularly to the case of the firstst accused.
“The problem we are in and under the prevailing circumstance is the goal post is shifted against the accused person. When the defence is to score a goal and the goal post is shifted to favour the prosecution, the scenario is tantamount to a contractor.”
Mr Chime further observed that even though his client is taking solace as the trial is presided over by a court of appeal judge sitting as a high court judge, he believes that she is impartial.
“We wish to emphasize the fact that the right of the accused persons is being toiled with by calling an additional witness,” he said.
“The additional witness sought to be called by the name Seedy Saidybah, is coming on board as an additional witness because his name was mentioned by the last prosecution witness, Mbemba Camara, in a bid to plaster the wall that the other has left undone and that he is called to embark on that expedition.
“I am humbly submitting that section 234 of the Criminal Procedure Code is very emphatic on the issue of cross examining the totality and entirety of a prosecution witness, justice, interest of justice and the court frown at it. The defence should be availed with documents and everything in the case by the prosecution. At last reverse is the case and that is not what we are experiencing in this case.”
Mr Chime said although the constitution has stipulated that the defence in criminal cases should be given adequate time and facility, they are experiencing the contrary.
“I am not saying this is a trial by ambush but it is tantamount to trial by ambush. Even though we are serve now with the notice on additional witness, the additional witness have been asked to enter the dock. So many additional witnesses have been called and we remain quite,” he said.