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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Gam-Petroleum duo acquitted and discharged

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By Binta A Bah

After months of deliberation over the high-profile Gam-Petroleum corruption trial, the High Court in Banjul has acquitted and discharged Saihou Drammeh, former managing director and Lamin Gassama, former operations manager, who were accused of causing over $20 million loss to the economy of The Gambia.

The presiding judge, Justice Haddy C. Roche, acquitted the duo on all the eight charges of economic crime and stealing ‘due to lack of evidence’ from the state prosecution to warrant them enter their defence. They are accused of pilfering over $20 million at the Gam-Petroleum facility in Lamin Mandinaring. They denied the allegations throughout the prosecution’s case.

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Their acquittal came following a ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission by their lawyers led by Christopher E. Mene that they were unconvinced that any of state witnesses produced incriminating evidence to link their clients to the allegations. 

It followed the announcement by the prosecutor, Mballow that they have closed their case after the testimony of 12 witnesses including the General Manager of Jah Oil, Momodou Hydara and the Operations Manager of Atlas Company Limited, Dodou Njie.

According to the judge, there is no evidence from the witnesses that Drammeh and Gassama intent to commit felony, adding that the board of directors of Gam-Petroleum cannot allege that they (Gassama and Ceesay) deceived them since they cannot produce evidence of any of their wrong doings.

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It was alleged that they acted together with a common purpose to commit felony and caused economic loss to The Gambia through an unauthorised disposal of petroleum products of international traders but the judge held that there is no evidence that they inappropriately mismanage the stock of the international traders.

“In the interest of clarity, and to conclude, the accused persons are hereby discharged and acquitted on all the eight counts for absence of a prima facie evidence to support conviction on same”, the judge ruled.

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