General News Mon, 19 Nov 2001

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Malam Isa Heads For Supreme Court

Former Youth and Sports Minister, Malam Ali Yusuf Isa, last Friday filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge his four-year conviction by the Fast Track High Court for stealing and fraudulently causing financial loss to the state, which conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal recently.

The grounds of appeal fiiled by his counsel, Mr. Ambrose Dery, include a suggestion that the Fast Track Court conducted the trial of the convicted Minister in a hasty manner, which deprived him of his fundamental right to a fair trial under the Constitution.

The grounds also cited the refusal of the Fast Track Court to stay proceedings for the Supreme Court to determine an appeal against the dismissal of a submission of no case to answer and the constitutionality of the second charge against Isa, as examples of the haste with which the trial was conducted.

Counsel also argued that the Fast Track Court's refusal of his applications for necessary adjournments to enable him facilitate the preparation of his defence was another example of the hastiness of the trial.

His right of appeal under the Constitution was also held back by high fees peculiar to the Fast Track Court system, the notice said.

The notice also stated that the confirmation of his conviction by the Court of Appeal has caused him a substantial miscarriage of justice.

It stated further that the Court of Appeal erred in law when it failed to evaluate the relevant evidence on record, and failed to determine whether the circumstantial evidence by the prosecution led irresistibly to his guilt.

Counsel argued that the Court of Appeal erred in law when it decided that 'an appellate court is limited to considering not the sufficiency of evidence but whether there was some evidence before the trial court or whether there was no evidence at all without further making a determination on whether or not the requisite standard of proof is satisfied.'

According to counsel, the Court of Appeal also erred when it held that the defence had failed to prove that the accused was framed up and that his evidence thereby suffered in quality and should be viewed with suspicion.

This was because the court failed to consider the position of the law that circumstantial evidence per se should be closely examined since it can be fabricated to cast suspicion on the appellant, he argued.

The Court of Appeal, according to counsel, also failed to evaluate the evidence that was brought before the court within the ambit of the Evidence Decree to determine the credibility of the evidence against the accused.

He said this was essential because of the evidence of a hostile relationship between prosecution witnesses and the accused a result of his anti-corruption stance.

Counsel contended that the Court of Appeal also erred when it considered suspicion of Malam's evidence as a valid basis for his conviction, since the law does not permit conviction based on suspicion.,

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