UDP leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe

(JollofNews) – The Gambia’s minister of Foreign Affairs and Gambian Abroad Thursday sat in the public gallery of the Banjul High Court to hear the judge overrule the objection of former security chiefs against the appointment of special prosecutors.

Ousainou Darboe whose United Democratic Party (UDP) is part of the country’s coalition government and also holds a large majority in the National Assembly, came face to face with the men accused of arresting and beating to death his then organising secretary, Solo Sandeng.

Mr Sandeng died on 15th April 2016 at the National Intelligence Agency’s (NIA) headquarters in Banjul less than 24 hours after he was arrested with a dozen other activists for staging a brief but peaceful protest against the former regime of President Yahya Jammeh at Westfield junction, Serrekunda.

Former NIA bosses including Yankuba Badgie, Saikou Mar Jeng, Haruna Susso, Baboucarr Sallah, Lamin Darboe, Lamin Lang Sanyang, Louis Gomez and Yusupha Jammeh have all denied having a hand in his death.

The men have also strongly objected to the appointment of six private practitioners as public prosecutors by the Attorney General and minister of Justice

They argued that Antouman Gaye, Sheriff Tambadou, Lamin Camara, Racheal Mendy, Combeh Gaye and Yassin Senghore had represented Solo Sandeng in the case of Habeas Corpus and there is a confidential between them and the Sandeng family.

Solo Sandeng was killed in detention

However, the presiding judge, Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara said the special prosecutors are fit and proper to represent the state in the case and their appointment was done in accordance with the law.

She said the court is not interested about the proximity or closeness of the prosecution team to the deceased family but in the diligent prosecution of the case.

“At the end, it is the court that decides based on the evidence produced before it and not whether the mental element of the prosecution is biased or not,” she stated.

The judge added that although the prosecution team had acted for the victim in the previous case and the said victim is the complainant in this case, there is no conflict of interest.

She said the parties in the two cases are different as the case before her is a criminal case and the previous one was a civil matter with different facts.

Justice Sillah-Camara stated that as a presiding judge in this matter, it is her duty to consider the totality of evidence of the parties before deciding on the matter without fear or favour.

The case continues in October.