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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Angry judge slams state counsel for stalling

Since July last year the case has been stalling. During the last session of the case, the judge ordered his clerk to serve a notice to the Attorney General’s Chambers  informing them about the manner the case has been handled by the state counsel. 

The case resumed Thursday on the expectation that the state would proceed with the matter but the director of public prosecution, Hadi Saleh Barkum, standing in for the main state counsel in the matter, applied for a standing down or an adjournment. 

The DPP said the state counsel was stuck home because he could not get a car to attend the case on time due to the mobility problems his department was encountering. 

Justice Amadi paused and frowned at the DPP, telling him: “That is not my problem. The counsel handling this case is a senior counsel. He could have made arrangement for a vehicle earlier before. Look, I do not want to be pushed to a tight corner. I would stand down the case for thirty minutes and if the counsel handling the case did not appear before that time, I would send this case file to the chief justice because I would not entertain such malpractices anymore.” 

Lawyer Antouman Gaye, the lead defence counsel, in his submission, intimated that they were objecting to the application despite his client being on bail as he was entitled to a fair and speedy trial within a reasonable period of time. However, the trial judge granted the application for the standing down of the case for twenty minutes to enable the counsel handling the matter to appear. 

When the court resumed, the state counsel appeared but applied for the adjournment of the case saying the witness he intended to call was waiting for him at his office but because of vehicle constraints the judiciary was encountering he could not make it earlier so the witness left. 

“Don’t tell me that. Look, you can take the case file to the chief justice and tell him the state is not ready to proceed with the matter. You have to pay D2,000 to the account of the judiciary for wasting the time of the court and if you are not happy with the decision you can appeal it before the court of appeal. How can a case be filed since July last year and still there has not been any progress?” an obviously irate Justice Amadi fumed.

As argument continued between the judge and the state counsel, the lead defence, Lawyer Gaye applied to the court for the matter to be heard in chambers. He stated that he had communicated with the DPP but the judge asked the parties to select a suitable date for the hearing of the case. However, Lawyer Gaye persisted for the matter to be heard in chambers for proper code of conduct. The trial judge then asked counsel to see him in his chambers after adjourning the matter to May 19.

By Baba Sillah  

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