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Thursday, September 21, 2023

41 passport forms tendered in diplomatic passport trial

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By Aisha Tamba

A total of 41 diplomatic passport application forms were on Thursday tendered into evidence before Justice ZN Mboob of the Bakau high court in Mile-7.

Justice Mboob is presiding over the trial involving the former director of protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Baboucarr SM Jobateh, who is accused of approving diplomatic passports to several individuals not eligible to possess one. The forms were tendered by state counsel S.O Sibbie. Mr Jobarteh denied any wrong doing.

Testifying, prosecution witness Assan Baldeh revealed that he was part of the investigative panel which discovered that a good number people were found with diplomatic passports. “After interacting with the accused Baboucarr Jobateh, he identified the names of the individuals he gave the approval to which amounted to 41 individuals who were not within the criteria of a diplomat. As a result, I was assigned to obtain a statement from him which I did, signed by an independent witness. However, before obtaining the statement, I requested him to write his own statements since he is able to write but he demanded I write the cautionary and voluntary statements,” the witness told the court.

The witness added that people who were issued the diplomatic passports were invited and statements taken from them after which a report was written and compiled by the panel which signed by all panel members and copies sent to the Inspector General of Police, Attorney General’s Chambers, SIS, and the Gambia Immigration Department.” 

The witness was given the cautionary and voluntary statements to identify before being tendered into evidence.

During cross-examination, counsel for the defendant L Jobateh, asked the witness what are the criteria for the issuance of the diplomatic passport and the witness responded that an applicant must fall in a certain category, example, the president and National Assembly Members, which must be approved by the president and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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