As Alhagie Jobe & Co’s trial progresses- Chief Medical Officer EFSTH appears
The Chief Medical Officer at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), Ammar Al -Jafar, was the latest witness to testify in the ongoing trial involving the state against Alhagie Jobe, the deputy-editor-in-chief of the Daily Observer newspaper and Mbaye Bittaye, an ex-employee of Africell, before the Special Criminal Court, presided over by Justice Amadi.
In his testimony, Professor Al-Jafari told the court that he has worked at the EFSTH for almost 4 years, and recalled that on 20th of May, he received “a sermon from the Court asking him to appear in court and bring along an X-ray of one Alhajie Jobe on the same day.”
He said he could not meet the deadline given, because there is a procedure involved in getting the document. The witness produced the X-ray, but told the court that the NIA had collected the report on the 11th of February last year.
Counsel Gaye asked the professor about the medical report, but the professor insisted that the sermon he received did not talk about any medical report. But the defense insisted that it was clearly indicated on “the sermon for him to bring it along.”
At that juncture, Justice Amadi told the defense that they should have done more than just making phone calls to the witness. He said the professor is a very busy person, thus the counsel should have been at the hospital to facilitate the needed document.
The counsel then informed the court that he could not go further without the medical report, and then asked for an adjournment, but the learned judge said if the counsel had asked for an adjournment, then it would be difficult for the witness to come back because the witness is a very busy person.
After counsel Gaye had consulted with Alhaji Jobe, he came back and told the court that the defense has closed its case. And Justice Amadi then adjourned the case to June 12 for the defense to address the court.
However, prior to the witness testimony, there was a debate between Justice Emmanuel Amadi and lawyer Gaye, the defense counsel over adjournment.
When the case was called up, the defense counsel announced that his witness was not in court, thus the defense applied for stand down of the case to allow the counsel find out about his witness. But that application did not go down well with the learned Judge, who insisted that the defense counsel must proceed. And the counsel said he could not proceed without the witness, thus he was applying for a short adjournment to find out about his witness.
That application sent the judge wild. The judge however asserted that he has done his best to make sure that the trial is expedited, but he said the defense is dragging its feet unnecessarily.
But the defense counsel insisted that the delay was not caused by the defense, and that the defense is conducting its case professionally, adding that the application for an adjournment was in the interest of justice. The learned judge pointed out that if the counsel could not proceed with case, the court would adjourn the matter to end of June so that the defense could have all the time it needed.
But the defense said adjourning the matter to end of June was not in the interest of his clients, saying one of the accused persons, Alhajie Jobe has been in detention for a while. After a hot exchanged of words between both sides, they later agreed on at the end of June.
But, as the presiding Justice Amadi started to book the adjourned date, the defense witness who is the chief medical officer at the EFST Hospital entered the court room and the judge was notified about it. The witness, who dressed in ash-liked colour suit, was then ushered into the witness box.
Readers could recall that the first accused (Alhagie Jobe) is charged with making an act with a seditious intention, seditious publication, possession of seditious publication, false information to a public servant, reckless and negligent acts, all contrary to the Laws of The Gambia, while the second accused Mbye Bittaye is charged with one count of making preparation to do an act with seditious intention, also contrary to the Laws of The Gambia.