By Bruce Asemota
The High Court in Banjul, presided over by Justice F.A Achibonga, has yesterday acquitted and discharged one Ismaila Ndong on all 20 counts preferred against him.
The court decided the accused, represented by Lawyer Kebba Sanyang, has no case to answer.
Ismaila Ndong was charged with six counts of rape, 13 counts of robbery with violence and a single count of indecent assault.
The prosecution called several witnesses to prove the offence against him and at the close of the prosecution’s case, counsel for the accused, Lawyer K. Sanyang, made a submission of no case to answer and briefs were ordered to be filed in support of the submission.
The prosecution alleged that the accused person raped, robbed his victims who were specifically women and ladies using his taxi which he drives mostly around the Kairaba Avenue Traffic Light, Bakau, Brusubi-Turntable and Brufut.
In handing down his ruling, Justice F.A.Achibonga stated that a submission that there is no case to answer may be perfectly be made and upheld when there has been no evidence to prove an essential element in the alleged offence and when the evidence adduced by the prosecution has been so discredited as a result of cross-examination or is so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal could safely convict on it.
Justice Achibonga disclosed that the supposed victims who testified as prosecution witnesses during the trial adduced that the accused person was always with a boy in his taxi and it is the boy who jumped on them, asked them to keep quiet else, he would kill them whilst wielding a knife and a scissor before taking their personal effects.
Justice Achibonga stated that a closer scrutiny of most of the prosecution witnesses’ evidence does not support the conclusion that the accused person robbed the victims violently but the boy who was always with the accused did.
Justice Achibonga further stated that there would have been some evidence linking the accused person to the alleged stealing of their stolen items but the accused was not charged with abetting the commission of the offence but he was instead charged with committing the offence by himself as per the particulars of offence.
Justice Achibonga revealed that there is no evidence led by the prosecution to suggest that the accused engaged in a sexual act with the supposed rape victims.
The trial judge pointed out that since the victims’ own evidence does not support the fact that the accused engaged in a sexual act with them, an essential ingredient of the offence has not been established at the close of the prosecution’s case. The court therefore held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused person in all the counts and he upheld the application on a no case to answer and accordingly acquitted and discharged Ismaila Ndong on all the 20 counts.