The defense attorney representing the Voice Newspaper journalists on Thursday urges the Banjul Magistrate’s Court” to acquit and discharge” his clients. Lawyer Lamin Camara slams the prosecution for “woefully failing to establish a prima facie against Sainey MK Marenah and Musa Sheriff.”
Marenah and Sheriff are standing trial on conspiracy and publication of false news. They both maintain their innocence.
Camara’s arguments are contained in his “no-case-to-answer submission” he had submitted in court presided over by Magistrate Muhammed Krubally.
He justified the application for a ‘no case to answer’ saying it is pursuant section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“The application is to the effect that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie against the accused persons and therefore we respectfully enjoined this court to acquit and discharge the accused persons for the prosecution failure to meet the minimum bench mark required for the accused persons to enter their defense,” Lawyer Camara argues.
He says the case relating to his submission is very clear in the sense that “the prosecution is required to establish the offence charged i.e. ‘mens rea [guilty mind] and actus reus [guilty act].’ The prosecution must advance cogent evidence worthy of belief by this court or any other court for that matter and the prosecution witnesses must not thoroughly be discredited under cross-examination,” he says. “I submit on the contrary that this no case to answer should be upheld because regardless of the eight prosecution witnesses called by the prosecution, it has woefully failed to establish the mens rea and actus reus of the offence,” he adds, blaming the prosecution for failing “to advance cogent and reliable evidences worthy of belief by the court or any other tribunal to warrant the accused persons to enter their defence.”
Camara says the “the prosecution witnesses have been thoroughly discredited under cross-examination that no reasonable tribunal would believe in the testimonies.” For the offence of conspiracy to be sustainable against the accused persons, Camara says, the prosecution must have prove the meeting of the minds of the accused persons for an illegal enterprise or through the meeting of the accused persons by a legal enterprise by illegal means. For the offence of publication of false news, counsel stated that the prosecution must proved that the offence was indeed false and the accused persons knew that it was false and have no reason to believe that it is true. “I respectfully submit that prove of ingredients in count two is almost impossible because there is ‘no art to find the minds constructions on the face.’
Lawyer Camara makes several analysis on the evidence adduced by prosecution witnesses, citing the testimony of the first prosecution witness’ statement that he investigated the Voice Newspaper report turns out to be false. “The statement of the second accused (Musa Sheriff) was never tendered in court,” he adds.
Lawyer Camara also pinpoints inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses some of who testified that they were 58 Green Youths in Tanji. None of the witnesses was present on the day of the rally. He argues why the prosecution never calls Mafugi Ceesay, a reporter with the Voice to ascertain the falsification of the publication as alleged by the fourth prosecution witness, Lamin Kanteh.
Upon calculating the number of green youths mention by prosecution witnesses, Camara asked “Where are the 28 other Green Youths? There is so much doubt, there is so many lacunae that no one can convict,” he argues vehemently, saying a summary of the prosecution witnesses is that they do not know where the rest of the other green youths were.
“Where there is doubt in any case, the benefit goes to the accused persons,” he reveals, referring the court to Iyiola Omisore Versus the State, Court of Appeal decision contained in Nigerian Criminal Cases volume III 2008. Lawyer Camara closes his case believing that the “evidence of prosecution witnesses are tenuous, unreliable, discredited and unworthy of belief. I therefore respectfully urged the court to uphold the no case submission, acquit and discharged the accused persons,” he tells the court.
The case resumes on September 9th 2014 for the prosecution to reply to defense submission.