Thursday, October 21, 2010

Defence Counsels Calls on DPP Chenge to Rescue Himself from Treason Trial

PW1 Set for Cross Examination, Says he Posted as State Agent in Coup Plot Assignment
Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) Senior Lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka has called on the Director of Public Prosecution to rescue himself from the on-going Treason trial involving Lt. General Langtombong Tamba and seven others at the High Court in Banjul on Tuesday 23rd March 2010.

Lt.General Langtombong Tamba, Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbye, Conlonel Lamin B.O. Badjie, Major Kawsu Camara, former Deputy Inspector General of Police Modou Gaye, Gibrile Ngorr Secka, Abdoulie
Joof and Youssef Ezziddine are facing three counts of treason, charges they all denied.

Defence counsel Secka, who is teaming up with Counsel Assan Martins are representing Omar Bun Mbye, Colonel Lamin BO Badjie, Modou Gaye, Gibrile Ngorr Secka and Abdoulie Joof (2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th accused persons). Counsel Secka told the Court in his application that yesterday when the Court session was over, he and Lawyer Tambedou called on the Director of Public Prosecution at his office to discuss with him matters concerning the health of the 7th accused (Abdoulie Joof).

“We went to his office and found PW1 there and I think it is so important for the court to consider this matter,” Lawyer Secka said, adding that his client is facing serious health challenges. “In my opinion PW1 was and is still a witness of the Court till examined and re-examined. It is indeed illegal to interfere with the witness while he is still in custody of the Court,” Secka Stressed.

He said ‘we are indicting the DPP to rescue himself from this case’. At this point Lawyer Martins stood to express his support for Lawyer Secka’s application and the Counsel for the 8th Accused, Awa Sisse-Sabally also said, ‘I was not there but I have no doubt about what my learned friends said because I if it was not true I don’t think they will say it in open court.’

“I also called on the DPP to rescue himself from this case,” Counsel Sabally said.

In reply, DPP Chenge said he have never been involved in interviewing his witness, it is the first time I am hearing this and it is a normal routine and we are all doing it, every member at the Chamber do
interview their witnesses.

However, Lawyer Secka put it to him that once, even he last there for 100 days he should no longer be a witness of the prosecutor but that of the court. “We want our submission to be correctly recorded and reported with respect to the court.

At this point, Judge Emmanuel Amadi said that he want to clarify whether it was before, during or after the court proceedings but Lawyer Secka put it to him that he has drawn a distinction between interviewing your
witness before the beginning of the case and during the case.

Justice Amadi noted that during the second sitting on Monday 22 March, 2010, it was said that DPP invited his witness PW1, who is Ebrima Marreh on 8th February, 2010. However, Counsel Sabally argued that
the DPP is a prosecutor and not an investigating officer. But Justice noted that if the person calls his witness before the case, then there is no problem. He told the DPP that what Counsel Secka and Co. are complaining is that why was the witness found in your office.

At this point, DPP Chenge stressed: “It is a completely useless submission. We have been in The Gambia and it has been happening, so why has it been a case for concern in this case.” “What is wrong with interviewing
your witness after he has appeared in the box, if they don’t want to defend the accused persons let them leave and I will provide them with counsels,” he stressed.

After DPP’s harsh words, Justice Amadi ordered him to withdraw his comments, which he did by apologizing to the defence counsels, but Lawyer Secka noted that they are satisfied with his comments.

In his ruling on the subject, Justice Amadi asked Lawyer Secka whether he did asked PW1 at he was doing at the DPP’s office when he found him there, and he answered in the negative. Amadi admitted that he has
not face this kind of situation before. “I have not faced this kind of situation before, I don’t know whether we can move forward and I said I have no choice. What I am saying is that whether we should disqualify the DPP or the witness,” Justice Amadi said.

However Pap Cheyassin Secka, who is the most senior lawyer among the defence counsels argued that the witness cannot be disqualified. He said that this is not a case that we just prosecute the accused persons like
that. He pointed out that the DPP Chenge’s action is not only illegal but also unprofessional.

However, the DPP still stick to his guns when he stood and said that he has not interfered with the witnesses at any case. “Why did he invite the witness in his office,” Lawyer Secka asked. However the judge ruled that
the witness is not in court and that the DPP has said that he did not interfere with the witness. “So let us forget about the argument and go on,” he said.

Lawyer Secka referred the court to section 24 (3) (c) of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, which states that every person charged with a criminal charge shall be given adequate time and facilities to prepare. “The
accused persons have not been given the facilities to discuss with their families,” he said, noting that yesterday he went to see his client with his wife but it was not possible. He also noted that the people the accused persons want to see are not just their wives but people who can arraign for the financial needs to prepare for their defence.

The DPP argued that the accused persons have been given adequate time to prepare, adding that the defence counsel’s arguments are delay tactics. In this regard, Justice Amadi noted that in the first sitting he ordered the Prison Sergeant to let the accused persons have access to their families. “These are human beings, they are nationals, it is not a situation where I should make a direct order for the accused persons be given access to their families, their wives should be the closest to help them,” he said.

However, counsel Secka said. But they are not allowed even to see their wives’.

At this point, PW1 Ebrima Marreh was called to continue his testimony. Marreh told the Court that there were three meetings held and the first one was held at the back yard of the house of the 1st accused in Kololi. The DPP asked him to tell the Court the details of the first meeting and PW1 said that in the first meeting the 1st accused, Lt. General Tamba assigned the 7thaccused, Abdoulie Joof to offer financial support and the 4th accused, Major Kawsu Camara to monitor the President.

PW1 told the court that both agreed to carry out the assignment, adding that the 8th accused, Youssef Ezziddine was also assigned to offer financial support and he agreed. PW1 also said that the first meeting was the time the accused persons started discussing about the coup plot.

PW1 also said that the 1st accused told them that he has assigned someone to go to Guinea Conakry to bring arms and ammunition that the person will come with 300 basilas and that was the time the 1st 2nd 4th 5th and 8th accused agreed to overthrow the government. Marreh, who is also the principal witness, told the court that Lt. General Tamba was the one recording the minutes of the meeting.

At this point, Lawyer Secka stood and said, ‘I submitted that if a document is referred to during cross examination then that document should be tendered in court for evidence. Continuing with his testimony, PW1
said that the 1st accused was communicating with Kukoi Samba Sanyang buy phone during the meeting. Asked whether he heard what the 1st accused person was discussing with Kukoi Samba Sanyang, he answered in the negative.

PW1 also said that the 1st accused was playing the role of bringing arms and ammunition to The Gambia. On the Second Meeting, PW1 said it was held at the same place in Kololi (Lt. General Tamba’s house).
He said that was the time the 7th and 8th accused persons brought the money to pay the man who was to bring the arms and ammunition. He noted that he did not know how much money was involved but admitted that it was in a form of cheques.

Marreh, who is a twenty year old student of Jollof Tutors, said that the 1st accused contacted the man who is to transport the arms and ammunition to come over. He noted that the man in question was due to appear two days later and that the first accused told them that he will call them when the man is around. He said that the 1st 2nd 4th 5th 7th and 8th accused persons were present at the first and second meeting respectively.

For the third meeting, PW1 said it was held at the house of the 1st accused person in Bijilo. “That was the time the man who went to Guinea Conakry came to collect the money. They also discussed the date of the coup and was scheduled on ‘Tobaski Day’ in 2009. That was the day the 1st accused introduced me to the man who went to Guinea Conakry as Lui Jabbi Gassama,” PW1 said.

PW1 also admitted that on the same day, he was assigned to go to Farafenni to asses the military Barracks and linked up with the party (Kukoi and his group) bringing the arms and ammunitions from Thies, Senegal
for the coup plot.

PW1 added that the other parties were due to come from Guinea Conakry, through Guinea Bissau and Senegal then to Farafenni. He added that the 1st 5th and 3rd accused were present at the third meeting. He also said that before he went to Farafenni, he left for Kanilai and tells the 4th accused that he was assigned to go to Farafenni and the 4th accused told him that he is aware of his going to Farafenni.

He reveals that he went to the Yundum Military Barracks to ask for the phone number of the Commander of the Farafenni barracks and Major Kunta Manneh gave him the phone number of the commander of Farafenni, Lt. Colonel Yoro Jallow.

He confessed that he introduced himself to Lt. Colonel Yoro Jallow as an intelligence officer in the office of the President. However, he admitted that he is not working at the office of the President, noting that he was asked to introduce himself as an intelligence officer by the 1st accused Person, general Tamba. He said; “I told Lt. Colonel Jallow that am coming to asses the barracks for people who are traders to pass by. However, he noted that his motive was to welcome the party coming for the coup plot, assess the barracks to see how many soldiers are there in the Sangas (small houses in the front and back door of an army barracks where soldiers are deployed).

He (PW1) explained that before he left for Farafenni, the 1st accused gave him the phone number of CDS Masaneh Kinteh to call and inform him of his going to Farafenni as an intelligence officer from the office of the
President. “I explained to him that I am going to assess the barracks and there are people coming from Senegal who are traders. I also told him to inform lt. Yorro Jallow, the barracks commander. He told me that he will get back to me in 10 minutes.”

He said the 5th accused called him to meet up with him at Serrekunda to pick up D2000 for his food and communication. He said that he arrived at Farafenni at 0115 GMT and called the commander to come and
pick him, where he spent the night at his office.

He explained that when the commander told him that he was going out to see-off the Inspector General of Police, he (PW1) walk out and went round the campus of the barracks, where he saw five soldiers in each
‘sanga’. PW1 added that he told Commander Yerro Jallow that he want to go to the boarder and the commander drove him there, but after five minutes, he saw the commander returning with his car and told him that his boss want to speak to him (PW1).

“By the time we arrived at the barracks, he called the present CDS Masaneh Kinteh. I spoke to him and he asked me whether I am in possession of my intelligence warrant card, and I said no, then he told me that
I cannot go to the boarder without a warrant card,” he explained.

PW1 explained that the Masaneh Kinteh informed him that he cannot carry on with the investigations till his warrant card comes and he asked PW1 to give the phone back to Commander Jallow, who later told him that he must stay till his warrant card comes.

“That was the time I called Modou Gaye, the 5th accused and the 4th accused Kawsu Camara and explained to them that I am apprehended by the soldiers. They told me that if I am asked I should not mention their names, that I should tell them that I was sent by the present CDS, Masaneh Kinteh and the former Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie,” he said.

He also told that though he is not related to Lt. General Tamba, he came to know him after he had approached the 1st accused to help him finance his house rent, he said the accused gave him D2000 and told
him that he will also be responsible for his school fees. “That was the time we started our relationship,” he confessed.

At this stage, PW1 was being cross-examined by lawyer Assan Martins with preliminary questions. But Martins continued argument that he has another case to answer led to the adjournment of the case till tomorrow.

However, before the case was adjourned, lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka told Justice Amadi that they have not been given enough time to prepare for their defence. “It was only on Saturday and Sunday that we have the chance to meet them and that was only to receive the documents from the accused persons,” he lamented.

“Justice delayed is justice denied and justice rushed is not justice at all,” he argued.
 Then the judge ruled that the case has been adjourned till Wednesday 24th March, 2010 at 1230 GMT. Vol:2 ISSN:143

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