Saturday, November 6, 2010

Treason Trial: Cross-Examination of Fifteenth Prosecution Witness Continues

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES)The treason of Lt. General Lang Tombong and Co. on Monday 3rd May 2010 (Day 22) continued with cross-examination of the 15th prosecution witness, a National Intelligence (NIA) Officer by Senior Defence Counsel Pap Cheyassin Secka.

Secka asked the witness whether he said that the first prosecution witness (PW1) Ebrima Marreh was arrested on 19 November 2009 for spying security installation. The witness replied in the positive, adding that PW1 was arrested at Farafenni for camp spying.

“My learned friend asked you whether he is aware that during the arrest of Ebrima he made three calls and you said ‘Yea’, did you investigate to whom Ebrima was making those calls to?” the witness said he cannot recall.

On whether Ebrima’s mobile was taken from him at the time of his arrest, the witness said: “My lord I was not present during his arrest in Farafenni, so, I
cannot elaborate on that. The witness admitted reading the statement of (PW9)
Colonel Yerro Jallow but said he cannot remember what he said.

When Secka asked the witness what lie did Ebrima Marreh told the authorities at Farafenni, the officer said PW1 lied to the authorities in Farafenni that the Director
General NIA Numo Kujabi, Ex-Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ensa Badjie,
Director of Operation Police Jallow, former CMC, and the current IGP Yankuba
Sonko.

Confronted with series of questions from Pap Cheyassin Secka, he said that the mentioning of the Ex-Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of The Gambia Armed Forces is not
to his knowledge. He also affirmed that the panel was formed after the
allegation to investigate what Ebrima (PW1) said.

At this juncture, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Richard N. Chenge objected on grounds that the NIA is a top security organisation. Counsel Secka said that he will proceed and opted to
write their names on the paper and pass it to the judge, as their identity to
the court is important.

The witness also affirmed that when Ebrima was arrested since 19th November 2009 up to 21st November, 2009, he was under the custody of the NIA.
Secka put it to the witness that no wonder Ebrima Marreh has change his
statement within 48 hours, in response the witness said he cannot say anything
about that because he is not Ebrima.

He was also asked in his years of experience; from 1971 to date, whether he had an occasion to investigate statements made by people under arrest. The witness
said this the nature of his job and have investigated lots of cases.

Under cross-examination by Secka, he said there is no duration when PW1 appeared before the panel to believe that what he said at Farafenni was a lie. “Do you know contrary to what (PW2) Rui Jabbi
Gassama said that the first two meetings took place at (PW3) Lamin Bo Badjie’s
residence at Tallinding, while PW1 said all the three meetings took place at
the (1st accused) Lang Tombong’s residence at Kololi, was the panel
able to establish what was correct?” The witness said he cannot say anything
about that.

Asked whether he know the location of the alleged training of the alleged mercenaries, he said did not know. On whether he enquired from PW2 the duration
between the end of the training and at the time he gave the information about
the training, “with regards to the training, we did not enquire between the end
of the training”, said the witness.

On Rui’s statement made on 16 and 21 December 2009 and whether the panel visited Bissau to investigate the serious allegation, the witness said that it is not up to his knowledge. Then
Secka put it to him that as a leader of the investigation panel he would have
known that it existed. The witness then said there was training and it ended.

About PW2’s explanation that two men, French and an American national and that whether the investigative team did try to find out who are those people are and
interview them, he said there is no person at the site.

On whether the panel asked PW2 what happened to the trained mercenaries after the training, the witness told the Court that they have dispersed and did not know
where.

The witness said the investigation team did not even see a single person out of the 300 mercenaries because there was no one at the site and would want the Court
to believe that after the 300 mercenaries had trained they disperse to an
unknown destination.

“Apart from PW1’s statement does the investigation team have any information that you know of the 7th accused person attending any meeting at the 1st
accused person’s residence,” asked Secka. The witness told the Court that “If
my memory serves me well is only Ebrima Marreh. “Your memory serves you well”,
Secka told him.

The witness said that if his memory serves him well is only Ebrima who said that Modou Gaye the 5th accused person was involved in the coup plot to
overthrow the incumbent government of The Gambia. He also said that it is only
the PW1 who said that 2nd accused Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbye, 4th
accused Colonel Kawsu Camara and the 7th accused Abdoulie Joof has
attended the meeting that took place at 1st accused Lt. General Lang
Tombong’s residence.

Cross-examination by Hawa Sisay Sabally

In her cross-examination lawyer Sisay Sabally asked the witness “why was it necessary to set up an investigation panel when it was answerable to somebody who
was already implicated”, “it was an allegation,” said the witness.

The witness said the allegation was investigated and their findings are that it was an allegation by PW1 at Farafenni military barracks against the four service
chiefs he mentioned earlier and suspects were arrested. “If PW1 maintain the
same statement as alleged at Farafenni the panel would have effected the arrest
of all he had mentioned including my director general because no body is above
the law”, the witness said.

When he was told by Sisay that there were allegations against these people and there was no investigation, he insisted that there was proper investigation. The
witness said that it was also only Ebrima Marreh who made mention of the eighth
accused. He further told the Court that he could not recall the eighth accused
person was released in December 2009 and re-arrested in March 2010. He stated
that the amount of people who visited Guinea Bissau is a secret. He also said
that the team travel by land and came by land. “So the per diem was paid?”
Sisay asked, “That is natural”, said the witness.

“I am putting it to you that you did not investigate at Bissau”, Sisay told the witness.

The witness continued that he brought the photo album along, but the senior defence counsel put it to him that the site was not visited, because it does not exist,
that if it exists you would have photos like that of Samaritan. The witness
told the court that he has no knowledge about that.

The witness said that they heard from the ship owner and obtained his statement and was present when the eighth accused was interrogated.

When told to tell the court how the interrogation was done, he said when the eighth accused was arrested and brought and during his interrogation, he was asked to
give his name and other personal details. He also stated that they informed him
of the allegation during interrogation but he denied the allegation and said he
is not a party to the coup plot. He asserted that his cautionary statement was
taken before he was granted bail and no voluntary statement was taken but can’t
say anything about the reason for his bail. The NIA officer pointed out that
after the interrogation a report was prepared and submitted to his director of
operation.

He said he was not aware of any visit to the houses of the first accused and third accused by the investigating team to see the strange light.

He informed the court that he could not remember what the investigating team did apart from obtaining statements and confrontation parade. The witness also said
it was confirmed that the village (Galunga) is in Bissau. At this stage, counsel Hawa Sisay
Sabally put it to the witness that the village is not in Guinea Bissau. But the
witness maintained that according to their finding the village is in Bissau.

“There was no attempted coup involving all the accused persons,” Lawyer Sisay Sabally told the court. “It is her own observation,” the witness said.

Secretary to Gambia’s Embassy in Bissau Testifies

At this stage the sixteenth prosecution witness (PW16), First Secretary to The Gambian Embassy in Guinea Bissau was called in the witness box to give his
testimony. The witness, who told the court that he lives in Bissau, explained that on the 16th
December 2009 while he was in his office, his Ambassador gave him a photo album
and told him to take it to the investigating panel at the detention centre. He
said on his arrival he handed it over to the head of the investigating team.
After that, he said he returned to his office. He said on 1st March
2010 Colonel Sano called him to inform him that
Rui Damas, a Portuguese national and the owner of the ship called Mare
de Bissau who had returned from Portugal, fixed an appointment with him to meet
at Kachaw to obtain a statement from him.

According to the witness, the following day he (witness) was accompanied by Colonel Sano and two other security officers from Bissau
to see Rui Dames.

The witness stated that he obtained a statement from the boat owner Rui Damas who said that Rui Jabbi Gassama went to him to buy the ship for transporting arms
and ammunition to the Gambia.
The witness also said that Damas told him that he would not come to Banjul.

DPP Richard N. Chenge then asked the witness whether if he sees the statement he would recognise it, the witness answered in the positive. Asked how he can
recognize the statement, he said he will recognise it with his hand writing.

DPP applied to tender the statement as exhibit. It was admitted and marked Exhibit P26 without any objection from the defence counsels.

Chenge told the court that he has closed their case for the sixteenth prosecution witness.

One of the defence counsels Sheriff Tambedou told the Court that he intend to make an application for some of the accused persons (1st and 4th
accused). He said he also intend to make a no-case submission for the Court to
discharge them. Senior defence counsel Secka
express his intention to make a no-case to answer submission for 2nd,
3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th accused
persons and Hawa Sisay Sabally said she would make a similar application for
the 8th accused person.

The defence is to file their written brief on Friday and serve it to the Court. The court gave three days to the defence to file on or before Friday, the
prosecution was also given three days on or before Tuesday to reply on the
point of law. The counsel also to reply
within 2 days on the point of law only. The case was adjourned till 14th
May 2010. Vol:2 Issn:172

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