EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou has responded to social media rumors that it was him who recommended to President Adama Barrow to extend his prerogative of mercy on Svein Agesandakar, a Norwegian citizen convicted of child abuse in The Gambia. “I am learning with utter dismay of reports circulating on social media that I recommended to the President for the exercise of his prerogative of mercy on one Norwegian citizen convicted of child abuse in The Gambia,” Mr. Tambadou said in a statement today.
Acting under Section 82 of Gambia’s 1997 Constitution and on the advert of the Holy feast of Eid-ul-Adha (Tobaski), President Adama Barrow on 20th August exercised his powers of prerogative of mercy and granted pardon to four Gambians and three foreigners who were convicted and sentenced on various offences including Mr. Agesandakar.
Minister Tambadou said he wants to make clear that he was not aware of this matter neither did he make any such recommendation to the President. “In fact, I am currently out of the country on the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. This matter was not brought to my attention for advice and I have consistently taken a hard line position on homicide and sexual offences convicts as reflected in all previous pardons in which I have participated as a member of the Prerogative of Mercy Committee which also includes the Honourable Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police and a religious leader,” he said.
President Adama Barrow came under fire for pardoning Mr. Agesandakar who sentenced of paedophilism serving time for fiddling six Gambian children with an early release.
He was given a three-year jail term and ordered to pay a D600,000 fine in 2012 for abusing six children, the youngest victim was about three years at the time. His jail term was extended to another three-years following his inability to pay the court fine.
However, early this week, the president shocked the nation by given him an early release as part of events marking the Muslim feast of Eid ul- adha.
“I therefore reiterate that I was not involved in any decision to recommend for pardon the said Norwegian citizen contrary to reports that I made the recommendation. Upon my return from the hajj, I will get to the bottom of this matter and find out how the MOJ came to be associated with the purported conflicting statements released on our twitter page,” Minister Tambadou added.
He said it is also disheartening to note that some people see this incident as an opportunity to attempt to further tarnish his reputation by associating this incident with a previous one involving his brother last year, saying, “I want to state that I am not my brother and I am not responsible for my brother’s actions as a private legal practitioner. I would like to be judged on my actions alone regarding my professional conduct and not constantly get associated with the actions of my brother who is a private legal practitioner.”
He said he will not allow anyone with any kind of agenda whatsoever to distract him from his objective of establishing strong foundations for democratic practice, respect for human rights and upholding the rule of law in The Gambia. “The challenge is hard enough without the pettiness and personal attacks from some quarters albeit limited.”