Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let justice guide our actions - Up-date

Lang Tombong and co
UPDATE: The Supreme Court has released Batch Samba Faye on appeal. he was serving a life sentence after being found quilty of murder in December 2004.  
There is a saying that history repeats itself. This week begins with a lot of mixed feelings for us in the diaspora. On Sunday 9 November 2014, the British Government and their allies will be paying their respect to the gallant soldiers that sacrificed their lives in the 2 World Wars. In fact, little Gambia played a major role and lost a total of 300 Gambian Soldiers who fought alongside the British forces.

Whilst we join forces with the British Government to pay respects to our gallant men that fought for the preservation of peace, and justice, it must be an ideal opportunity for us to reflect on what lies ahead for the rest of the week. Today being November 11th marks 20 years in which The Gambian National Army acting upon the auspices of the Defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council summarily executed the likes of Lt Basirou Barrow, Lt Dot Fall, Lt Gibril Saye and few others for attempting to overthrow the military government. 

The truth of the matter is that there was no such thing as a Coup Plot, it was sheer act of cowardice by the military junta. As we continue to mourn their loss, we pray that this Government will one day show some decency by releasing the dead bodies so that they afforded a decent funeral.

In the next 24 hours, the Supreme Court of The Gambia will have to deliver their final ruling in the Treason case involving General Langtong Tamba and 7 others in which they were found guilty and sentenced to death. Judging from the experience on treason trials in the Gambia which dates back to the case of Pap Cheyassin and Co during the First Republic, this case in its current form is a blatant example of gross miscarriage of justice.  

The prosecution’s case lies primarily on the evidence given by Ebrima Marreh and Rui Jabbi Gassama. Despite the inconsistencies in their statements, the trial judge did not hesitate to convict them of a serious crime of treason. To add insult to injury, the trial judge decided to impose a death penalty against Tamba and 7 others. It is quite unfortunate that the Supreme Court in delivering the judgment did not exercise their powers properly against upholding the judgment from the “inferior” court-The Gambia Court of Appeal which was presided by Justice Joseph Wowo and the High Court presided by Justice Amadi

Although the death penalty is permissible under Gambia law, the constitution which is the supreme law of the Gambia clearly outlines the situation which it could be rightly used. In the Tamba Treason case, the evidence was uncorroborated and unreliable for any rightful person of legal integrity to consider imposing the death penalty. Therefore the onus now lies on the Supreme Court Judges assigned with tomorrow’s ruling to show wisdom and be reminded of the words of our national anthem- Let Justice guide our actions. The evidence against Tamba and Co is too weak to warrant a conviction. 

The Supreme Court Judges now have the chance to restore sanity into our jurisprudence by acquitting the entire 7 plotters for lack of substantive evidence. Last week, we read Learned Counsel Sherrif Tambedou’s submission in court, in which he provided reasons why the death penalty was in appropriate. I cannot disagree with him, given the shallow evidence which the then Director of Prosecution Richard Chenge presented at the trial.

The task of the Supreme Court Judges will be “complete” when they have to make another ruling in the appeal case involving Batch Samba Faye who was found guilty of murder in December 2004. This case was primarily one of provocation by the victim and there is overwhelming evidence of a gross miscarriage of justice by Justice MA Paul. 

Previous sittings in the appellate courts have clearly established that Batch Faye’s conviction by way of a death penalty is unsafe and unsatisfactory. In fact, the rationale behind this reasoning could be found in the link provided here  The dissenting judgment by Justice Mabel Agyemang does raise eyebrows as to whether this man should be found guilty of murder.

After serving almost 10 years, the time has now the courts to acquit and discharge Batch Samba Faye. A miscarriage of justice is much visible in this case and again I call upon the Supreme Court Judges to remember the words of our National Anthem – Let Justice Guide our Actions.