The acquittal and discharge of the Caliph General of Darsilameh Sanghajor caliphate and Alkalo of the village has brought back memories of the olden days, days when Gambians would comfortably took their cases to the courts, knowing fully justice would be served no matter whose ox is gored. Will this trend last, considering the rampant hiring and firing of judges by the Jammeh dictatorship, is another question.
Sheikh Muhideen Hydara and Buyeh Touray were cleared of conspiracy and disobedience to lawful order.
During the landmark judgment in a crowded courtroom on Wednesday, Magistrate Jaiteh blamed the prosecution for failing to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts. He said it is a cardinal principle in criminal cases that the legal and evidential burden of proving every element of the offence beyond reasonable doubt lies on the prosecution. The learned magistrate said this could be done either by direct or circumstantial evidence. He however added that the law requires that in either case the prosecution bears the legal burden of proving all the elements of the offence necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In that the prosecution must succeed on the strength of its own evidence and not allow to rely on the weakness of the defence or lies told by the accused as the basis for a conviction.
He blamed the prosecution for its failure to call a very important witness. Magistrate Jaiteh said the governor of West Coast Region who was alleged to have received the President’s lawful orders could have been vital to the prosecution’s case. “I wonder why the prosecution failed to call a star witness like the Governor. The testimony of the Governor cannot be equated to any of the prosecution witnesses who testified before this court,” Magistrate Jaiteh said. He cited Section 124 (1) (a) of the Local Government Act of 2002 which empowers the governor to represent the president and the central government in the local government area.
Jaiteh also hammered the prosecution for not tendering any evidence as exhibit before the court proving that the president’s lawful orders were disobeyed. The prosecution was also faulted for not tendering any evidence of the announcement from the president ordering people from performing Edul-fitr prayers on July 28, 2014. He said the prosecution should have invited a witness from the GRTS, the medium that allegedly announced the president’s so-called lawful orders.
“I find no iota of evidence from the prosecution that there is a lawful order from the President of the Republic of The Gambia,” Magistrate Jaiteh said, shifting focus on the defence team that rebutted and discredited the allegations of the prosecution. It summoned the director general of GRTS to produce the announcement of the said announcement. The deputy director also testified as a defence witness who provided evidence of the announcement. Magistrate Jaiteh said such an evidence has discredited the defence. He said this manifestly portrayed the prosecution’s unreliability that no reasonable tribunal could safely convict on it.
In a nutshell, Magistrate said the prosecution had not provided any cogent, compelling and unequivocal evidence to the contrary.
“I am satisfied by the evidence and submission of the defence that the President of the Republic did not make any announcement over GRTS sanctioning Edul-Fitr prayers on a specific date,” he said, believing that such an announcement emanated from the Supreme Islamic Council delegation.
“It is my considered view that the prosecution has woefully failed flat again to prove that the announcement by GRTS was from the President of the Republic with the certainty required by law,” he said. At this point, the magistrate said the accused persons should be discharged and acquitted. This was the only issue left on his plate. He therefore freed Muhideen Hydara and Buyeh Touray on both counts.