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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Court told former NAO staff’s alleged killer is a minor

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By Binta A Bah

The lawyer representing the alleged killer of former National Audit Office staff Ousman Jarju has told the high court yesterday that his client is a minor. 

The lawyer, Omar Susso, from the National Agency for Legal Aid, accordingly filed an application seeking for the case to be transferred to the children’s court and argued that his client’s current detention at the Mile 2 is illegal.

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The suspect is accused of causing the death of Mr Jarju by stabbing him with a knife.

He is further accused, alongside two others, of robbery with threat, robbery with the use of deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit felony. That charge alleged they unlawfully stole the property of Fatoumatta Danso with the use of violence.

They all denied the charges. Fatoumatta, who was said to be with the deceased on the day of the incident, has already testified on the alleged incident.

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A motion filed by the defense requesting the court to make a declaration that it lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case of the suspects on this charge, is also seeking for an order to admit them on bail pending the determination of the case.

It stated that the first suspect at the time of his arrest and alleged commission of the offence was a minor and that his birth certificate has been produced to prove that.

“Since the applicant is minor, this court lacks the jurisdiction to try him and that the appropriate court to do so is the children’s court. It is in the interest of justice that this application be granted,” the motion stated.

In response, senior state prosecutor, Patrick Gomez who is expected to file a reply to the application said they are strongly opposing the application arguing that the birth certificate of the first suspect was made after his arrest, which is a very common practice in The Gambia.

The presiding judge, Ebrima Jaiteh who looked surprised at the state counsel’s revelation said he did not think officials will do criminal activities just for the accused to escape the law. He said that’s a serious allegation and if found to be true, he will give the worst punishment for such practices.

At this point, the judge asked the suspect if they were going to school and they all responded in the positive. The first accused said he was in Grade 7 at the time of his arrest while the second and third accused persons said they were in Grade 5 and 6.

The trial continues.

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