Court orders Air Senegal to pay passenger D45, 000

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By Omar Bah

A magistrate at the Kanifing court has ordered Senegal’s national carrier, Air Senegal, to pay D45, 000 to a Gambia- based passenger, being the cost of items entrusted to the airline to convey from The Gambia to Sierra Leone.

In August, Kalma Keikura, a resident of Salagi, sued Air Senegal claiming they lost his luggage containing a tablet and other valuables. According to the writ of summons seen by The Standard, Mr Keikura was claiming the recovery of the sum of D34, 000 being the cost of items entrusted to Air Senegal.

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According to the particulars of offense, Mr Keikura contracted the airline to transport two luggage containing his personal belongings which include a tablet, electronics, snickers and some expensive clothes.

According to the court, the case first came up for mention on the 12th of October 2022 but while the plaintiff was present, Air Senegal was absent and did not advance any reason to excuse their absence. The plaintiff was allowed to give his evidence in chief and concluded on the same day. The case was adjourned to the 9th November 2022 to give the benefit of doubt to Air Senegal to appear before the court and react to the claim filed against them and or cross examined the plaintiff. But again, they failed to appear and did not advance any reason to excuse their absence. The court foreclosed the defendant’s right to cross-examine the plaintiff and adjourned the case to the 15th November 2022, to give the benefit of doubt to the defendant to appear before the court.

However, according to the court, on the 15th November 2022, the case was called again but the defendants were absent and again did not advance any reason to excuse their absence.

The court thereafter foreclosed the defendant’s right to open his defence and further adjourned the case for judgment.

In his ruling, delivered on 2nd of November, Magistrate Ebrima J Colley said the defendant after being served with the processes of the court continued to treat the court with disrespect and levity.

“It is a trite law that in a civil trial, a defendant cannot be allowed to dictate the pace at which a civil trial is conducted by his failure to excuse his absence. In the light of the foregoing and after I carefully considered the totality of the evidence before me particularly the evidence of PW1 (Kalma Keikura) I am satisfied that the plaintiff has proved their claim against the defendant on that premised and on the balance of probabilities judgment is hereby entered in favour of the plaintiff for the sum of D34,000.00 against the defendant in default of appearance pursuant to section 7 (1) of the Subordinate Courts (Civil Proceeding) Act,” Magistrate Colley ruled.

He also ordered Air Senegal to pay Mr Keikura D6,000 as damages and D5,000 as cost of instituting the suit.

The airline is ordered to pay the judgment fees within two weeks.