Willy Joof Discharged for Want of Prosecution
Friday, November 02, 2007
After several weeks of legal nightmare, the former Gambian ambassador to France, Mr. Willy Joof, yesterday walked out of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court a freeman.
The former Gambian envoy was early last month charged with two counts of official corruption contrary to section 86 of the Criminal Code, Cap 10, Vol. III of the Laws of The Gambia.
Mr. Joof was alleged to have between May and August of 2002 as the Gambia’s ambassador to France, corruptly received 24,391 Euros from one Gerrard Nuss as a condition for appointing him into the consular services of The Gambia.
Joof was also alleged of receiving a brand new Peugeot 607 from one Michael Coencas as a condition for appointing him into the consular services of The Gambia. The transaction allegedly took place in May of 2000 and at a time when Mr. Joof was employed into the public service as Gambia’s ambassador to France.
The vehicle was valued at 26,448.18 Euros.
Before discharging Mr. Joof, Magistrate Cecilia Jahateh pointed out that the prosecution had been absent from court on two consecutive adjourned dates without advancing any reason.
According to the magistrate, Mr. Joof had been charged with ‘very’ serious offences and that it was the duty of the prosecution to exercise due diligence in prosecuting their case. She added that the onus lay on the prosecution to expeditiously prosecute the case, taking into account the accused person’s constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty, protection and fair play.
To magistrate Jahateh, to charge Mr. Joof with grave offences and having such grave charges hanging on his head whilst the prosecution took the backseat, was an infringement of his constitutional and human rights.
Citing relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the magistrate said the court has, under section 160 of the CPC, the power to discharge Joof who was present in court whilst the prosecution was absent despite having notice that the case before the court does not enter an appearance.
“Accordingly, this court shall exercise such power in this case to discharge the accused with liberty to the prosecution to come back when they are good and ready,” she concluded.
Earlier on, the counsel for Mr. Joof, Lawyer Edu Gomez, made an application for the court to discharge his client, arguing that the prosecution had failed to show up in court for two consecutive sittings.
Author: By Modou Sanyang & Bakary Samateh
Source: The Point