By Lamin Njie

Lawyer for the Janneh Commission Amie Bensouda has said that former President Yahya Jammeh was expected to have close associates.

“Of course President Jammeh was expected to have close associates. He’s human. And all human beings have friends and associates,” Mrs Bensouda told commission chairman Surahata Janneh on Wednesday as she addressed the probe with regard to a court of appeal ruling.

Muhammed Bazzi who was named by the commission as a close associate of former President Yahya Jammeh had instituted a lawsuit against the probe and the attorney general with regard to the interim orders that were made against him in October 2017. However, the court of appeal in its ruling held that the commission “cannot be a party to an action in respect of decisions made by it”.

Mrs Bensouda said: “An interim order that a person is a close associate of President Jammeh is not a penalization or a punishment of any sort. It is in fact an opportunity to give the person who’s named a close associate to explain his or her relationship with President Jammeh and to explain if they can the facts that have been brought to their attention which led the commission to make the probable determination that the person is a close associate of President Jammeh.

“It’s my submission Mr Chairman that all five persons who have been named close associates of – who have said to this commission, ‘we are not close associates’ – have fully availed themselves of the opportunity to explain the circumstances of the issues that have been brought to their attention. It is now for the commission to make its findings and determination based on the evidence before it. The interim orders were interim and have always remained interim. They were not a decision or final decision of this commission.”