Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of High Court in Banjul on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, acquitted and discharged Pa Habib Mbye, a former senior official at the HOLGAM detention facility for insufficient evidence and lack of due diligence of the prosecution.
Delivering judgment, the trial judge disclosed that the accused person Pa Habib Mbaye was charged with a single count of acting as intermediary for the purpose of human trafficking, contrary to Section 29 (2) of the Trafficking in Person Act, Revised Laws of The Gambia 2009.
He further disclosed that the accused was arraigned on June 13, 2016, and only one witness testified, noting that Pw1 testified and was cross – examined.
The trial judge informed the court that from the 27th of October 2016 to date, it has been adjournment after adjournment at the instance of the prosecution, under the pretext that the State was reviewing the case file as to whether there is evidence in the case to warrant prosecution.
Justice Jaiteh revealed that in the course of the trial, the prosecution applied unethical practices including changing counsel for the State at will without instruction to carry on with the case.
The trial judge remarked that there must be an end to litigation, noting that the State is not a persecutor but a prosecutor.
He stated that the case degenerated from prosecuting to persecuting and lamented the fact that the court could no longer tolerate it.
Justice Jaiteh said he closed the case of the prosecution on the strength of the evidence of the only prosecution witness.
Justice Jaiteh pointed out that there was no prima facie case made out in the evidence of the only witness provided by the prosecution.
The trial judge cited Section 238 of the Criminal Procedure Code which states “that when the evidence of the witness for the prosecution has been concluded, and the statement or evidence (if any) of the accused person has been given in evidence, the court, if it considers that there is no sufficient evidence that the accused person or anyone of the general accused person committed the offence, shall after hearing the counsel for the prosecution and for the defense record a finding of not guilty”.
He therefore declared that since there is no sufficient evidence pointing at the accused person that he has committed an offence, the accused person is entitled to his freedom.
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh accordingly acquitted and discharged the accused person Pa Habib Mbye.