By Lamin Cham
Chief Magistrate Omar Cham Wednesday convicted and sentenced two Chinese nationals to a six- month mandatory jail term and a fine of D10,000 in default 6 months imprisonment.
The men were charged with conspiracy to commit felony on one count and giving false information to a public officer on the other, after police accused them of staged managing a violent robbery at a shop they were working, by inflicting injuries on themselves in broad day light in Banjul last month.
A third count was dropped after the facts revealed that the owners of the business and others have negotiated over the money lost at their level.
However in passing sentence, Chief Magistrate Omar Cham said what was lot in terms of reputational damage to the country by the action of the accused persons is far more than any monetary terms.
‘The faking of a violent robbery sent a very serious impression to the outside world, depicting Gambia as an unsafe place where investors can be robbed violently in the heart of the capital in broad light. This has a very negative reputational damage to the nation and its implications are far reaching.
Though I noted the accused did not waste the time of the court by pleading guilty right away, I hereby sentenced them to a fine of D10, 000 each or default six month imprisonment for conspiracy and six months mandatory jail term for giving false information, the Chief Magistrate said.” This is like a drama,” he said.
Last week, the police said their preliminary investigation in to the alleged robbery incident revealed that the two Chinese nationals Johny Zeng and Lucas Wanbiao had staged managed the robbery in the most dramatic fashion.
“They said investigations revealed that Johny Zeng admitted that he had agreed with his co-worker, Lucas Wanbiao, to give D3,030,000.00 to one Junzhao Deng out of the money from the shop for safekeeping.
The money was received by Mr. Deng on Saturday the 17th of September 2022 at the shop in Banjul for safekeeping until the proposed deal is done.
On the 19th of September 2022, around 09:00 am, Johny Zeng and Lucas Wanbiao discussed and agreed to create a scene of robbery by inflicting injury on each other. To make the scene look believable and acceptable, they brought with them books and two old laptops from their residence to the said shop.
Mr. Junzhao Deng assigned Omar Tamba (driver) to receive them on his behalf. Omar was told by Junzhao Deng to put on a cap and face mask because the duo were suffering from flu.
Contrary to allegations that the duo were stabbed, Mr. Lucas Wanbiao himself confirmed that he took a knife and cut Johny Zeng on the upper back of his left shoulder and Johny also used the same knife to cut Lucas Wanbiao on his right hand below his elbow, appearing as if they were robbed by Omar who was camouflaged as the suspected robber that entered the shop.
Revealing his reasons, Johny admitted taking monies from the shop coffers on several occasions and using it to play games at Star casino, leading to the loss of an amount of two million dalasis (D2000,000)
According to Lucas Wanbiao, having lost a lot of money at the Star Casino in Senegambia, he, Johny Zeng, and Junzhao agreed to steal monies from the shop to pay for the lost cash at the casino and the balance of the money to be taken to Senegal to be changed into RMB.
Lucas Wanbiao further stated that he bought a knife from the supermarket which they used for the operation. They confessed that they did not know Omar Tamba (the driver) before the incident,” the police said.
The police also said Mr Junzhao Deng was on the run.