By Baba Sillah
Former Justice Minister, Marie Saine-Firdaws yesterday faced the Janneh Commission for the first time regarding the termination and legal tussle between the government of the Gambia and Carnegie Mineral Company, an Australian company.
Carnegie was issued license in 2007 for the mining of heavy minerals which are exported to China for extraction. However, the government terminated their contract for alleged breach of contract and later ordered for the prosecution of the officials of the company for economic crime.
Mrs Saine-Firdaws explained the role she played to settle the matter out of court.
Now the legal adviser to the African Union, Mrs Saine recalled that when she was appointed as the Justice Minister in 2007, she was once summoned by the office of the president with regard to the company. Mrs Saine testified that a task force was recommended for the matter to be settled out of court as it was not in favour of the government but Jammeh ordered for their prosecution against another advice to investigate the matter and review the case file before taking any action.
According to her, she was briefed to ascertain whether the company was operating under the terms and conditions as spelt out in the license.
She further explained the legal action that was filed by the company in the United Kingdom against the government where she said they discussed extensively with officials of the company to see how they could resolve the matter before they return to Banjul.
She explained: “After the investigation, a case was filed at the High Court and the securities were ordered to protect the mining site. I have never been to the mining site because the case was investigated by the office of the Inspector General of Police and an inventory was also conducted. After the termination of the license, Carnegie took the matter to court; the AG Chambers received the processes and briefed the office of the president for advice.”
Sittings continue today.