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‘Pardoning of Norwegian pedophile reversed’—Interior Minister

Gambia’s interior minister Ebrima Mballow

By Mustapha Darboe

The amnesty granted to the Norwegian pedophile causing huge outcry in the country has been reversed by the Prerogative of Mercy Committee, Ebrima Mballow, interior minister, confirmed to Kerr Fatou.

Mballow said the Committee has already written to inform President Adama Barrow about their decision reached at a meeting at his ministry earlier today.

The Norwegian is currently under the immigration custody, the immigration spokesperson Mamanding S Dibba told Kerr Fatou.

Svein Åge Sandåker 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. But he was pardoned a day before Eid prayers.

The interior minister Ebrima Mballow later told Kerr Fatou that Sandåker was released on conditions that he will be deported and he will compensate his victims. Mballow said Sandåker was still at Mile 2.

However, the spokesperson of the Gambia Prison Services, Momodou Lamin Ceesay, told Kerr Fatou on Monday that Sandåker has left their custody since last Monday between 8 to 9p.m alongside 6 others.

“They were all released on Monday… This was between 8 to 9 p.m,” said Ceesay. He said the three foreign nationals involved in the pardoning were handed to the immigration for processing.

Meanwhile, immigration spokesperson said Sandåker who is in their custody was being processed to be deported.

“The two Senegalese have been taken out of the country… Consultations are going on and we are working on modalities to have him (Sandåker ) taken out of the country and his home country is involved,” said Dibba.

With this new decision from the Prerogative of Mercy Committee, Sandaker will be returned to Mile 2 to serve his sentencing.

Earlier on Monday morning, Kerr Fatou has contacted the Norwegian consulate but a lady who received the call said she cannot comment on the issue.

Kerr Fatou has also emailed the Norwegian embassy in Ghana but at the time of publication, the embassy did not respond.

By law the Prerogative of Mercy Committee is chaired by the justice minister and involving the permanent secretary at the Interior, representative from ministry of health, representative from social welfare, representative from immigration and representative from prison service.

But at the time of the pardoning, the Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou, was in Saudi Arabia.

The immigration PRO said the Committee had all the list of prisoners at Mile 2 for them to make a decision on who is legible to be released.

There are criteria such as serving more than half of your sentencing and good conduct while in prison and others, said Ceesay.

Many Gambian activists said Sandåker is not deserving of that remorse from the president given the gravity of his crime.

Mballow told Kerr Fatou that the Committee’s decision was based on insufficient information with regards to the gravity of the crime committed by Sandaker.

“We think the outcry is normal and that is why we had to sit over the issue again,” he said.

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