By Bekai Njie
Alleged perpetrators of Faraba Banta incident will face manslaughter charges instead of murder, according to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambedou.
The minister who was speaking to the media at his usual press briefing on Tuesday at the Justice Ministry, said the report on Faraba has been reviewed.
He added that based on the evidence of the findings of the commission; his ministry has concluded manslaughter as the appropriate charges in an incident that led to the death of three people. Five officers were arrested in connection with the matter in June last year.
“On the Faraba Banta PIU case, we have reviewed the Faraba Banta Commission’s report and concluded that given the entire circumstances of the event, the charge of murder should be substituted with the charge of manslaughter,’’ Justice Minister Tambedou said. “The PIU personnel implicated in the killings, will thus be prosecuted on the basis of manslaughter.’’
Asked why the ministry made such a substitution knowing the gravity of the incident which took three lives, the minister said the matter involves lots of legal technicalities and the decision was made on those legal technicalities and based on the evidence put before them.
“I’ve made the decision on the basis of review of the commission’s report and the circumstances surrounding the event that manslaughter is the more appropriate charge under the circumstances not murder.”
The minister said this does not mean the government is not committed to prosecuting those found wanting, saying manslaughter also attracts life imprisonment in The Gambia.
“The point here is that, manslaughter attracts imprisonment for life in this country as well,’’ he went on. “And the fact that the government has taken this matter seriously and is prosecuting these police officers for manslaughter is not a sort of reduction of the commitment in anyway of this government to the Faraba Banta prosecution,” he said. “We are determined today more than ever before to see that the case is prosecuted but we also need to be realistic about our chances of prosecution.’’
“There is a certain evidentiary burden that is required for different crimes and we believe under the circumstances, our evidence and the other surrounding circumstances allow them to be charged with manslaughter and that is the decision we have taken.’’