Mr Sosseh, the former coordinator for West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP) is standing trial on economic crimes charges for not spending World Bank 5.3 million Euros grant. He pleaded not guilty.
When his case resumed at the High Court yesterday, his lawyer sought for an adjournment in order to file a no-case submission after the prosecution closed its case.
Justice Amadi however intervened and declared that the laws of The Gambia forbid a defendant in an economic crime case to make a no-case submission.
“The act under which the accused is charged has stated clearly that the court shall hear all evidence from both the prosecution and the accused. I reject the application by the counsel to make a submission of ‘no-case-to answer and call upon the accused to upon his defence as required by law.”
Lawyer Singhateh however disagreed with the judge. He argued that his client has the right to remain silent if there is no evidence linking him to the said crime. He said he can make the submission on behalf of his client so as not to compel him to making ‘damaging’ evidence in his defence.
This argument prompted the prosecutor, Olimatou Danso, to raise an objection, siding with the judge. “The law does not give power to the defence to make the submission because the accused is facing economic crime charges,” she weighted in.
But Singhateh maintained his position and replied on points of law, insisting that the accused should not be asked to enter his defence if there is no sufficient evidence against him. He added: “Calling the accused to open his defence may compel him to make damaging evidence.”
Justice Amadi did not budge either, saying: “If counsel thinks the decision of the court is wrong, he can appeal.”
The case resumes February 24 for Mr Sosseh to enter his defence.]]>