CDS Kinteh testifies in treason trial

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh, the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces was the next person to testify, as the 10th prosecution witness (PW10), in the ongoing treason trial involving the former CDS, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, and seven others.

Testifying last Friday, 9th April 2010, Lt. General Kinteh told the court that he knows all the accused persons.

He revealed that on 18th November 2009, he (Kinteh) received a phone call from someone, who introduced himself as Ebrima Ceesay and works as an intelligence officer at the Office of the President.

Ebrima Ceesay told him, Lt. Gen. Kinteh added, that he (Ceesay) received information in his office that some smuggling activities are going on around the border with Senegal, and that he (Ebrima Ceesay) was asked to go on a fact-finding mission in Farafenni and Basse.

CDS Kinteh further testified that the said Mr. Ceesay also asked him to arrange so that he (Ebrima Ceesay) can talk to the commanders on the ground.

Lt. General Kinteh further revealed that Ebrima Ceesay told him that he (Ceesay) is going to send two agents to Farafenni and Basse.

"I assured him of my co-operation. I called the ex-Deputy CDS, Major General Yankuba Drammeh, about the visit and instructed him to liaise with the two commanders in the two areas: Farafenni and Basse," Kinteh informed the court.

Lt. General Kinteh added: "After that, I received a call from the same person that his two men are on the way, but their vehicle had a breakdown just after Barra, and that he wanted us to help him with a vehicle so that he could continue with the journey. But I told him (Ebrima Ceesay) we don't have a vehicle."

"I called the commander of Farafenni Barracks, Lt. Colonel Yerro Jallow, to confirm whether he has knowledge about the visit from the then Deputy CDS, Yankuba Drammeh, and he acknowledged it. I further instructed him to facilitate the mission of the intelligence agent."

PW10 further testified: "After that, I made several calls to make sure whether the said Ebrima Ceesay is a member of the President's Office, but all the people I contacted confirmed to me that he is not an officer at the President's Office."

Lt. General Kinteh said that later, Lt. Colonel Yerro Jallow "called and informed me that one of the agents has arrived in the camp, and I asked him (Lt. Yerro Jallow) to ascertain the agent's identity. He later told me that the agent has no warrant card." 

PW10 added that he requested to speak to the agent himself, and he asked him about his identity or warrant card, but he (Ebrima Ceesay) told him that his warrant was with his partner who was not with him.

General Kinteh continued: "I requested the said Ebrima Ceesay to hand over the phone to the commanding officer, and instructed Lt. Colonel Jallow that he (Ceesay) must not leave the camp until he produced the warrant card."

Cross-examination of the 10th prosecution witness Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh by Lawyer Tambedou counsel for the 1st accused person

Q- Your Deputy CDS Yankuba Drammeh has been relieved of his duties?

A- That is correct.

Q- Do you know when was he relieved of his duties?

A- I don't know.

Q- After his release, was he de-kited?

A- That is correct.

Q- Is it correct that he was de-kited immediately?

A- Yes.

Q- Is that the normal procedure for officers?

A- That is the normal procedure.

Q- Is it correct that Deputy CDS Drammeh was de-kited at his home?

A- Yes.

Q- Who normally gives instruction to de-kit?

A- From the appropriate superior authority.

Q- Can you tell us who the appropriate superior authority would be?
Richard N. Chenge, the DPP, objected to this question asked by counsel on the basis that it is not relevant to the case in question. He submitted further that the witness appeared clearly not wanting to discuss names. He pointed out that the armed forces have certain secrets that they would not want to divulge in public.
In his reply, lawyer Tambedou argued that the issue of de-kiting is very relevant in this case, since a witness has testified in this matter in respect of the de-kiting of the first accused person, and three more are expected to testify in relation to de-kiting. Counsel submitted further that the witness is the CDS, and that if he indicates that he cannot give answers for security reasons, then "we will not pose further questions, but he had not said so."

The court overruled the DPP's objection, and allowed the question to be answered.

A- The person is empowered by law or by virtue of his position to give instructions.

Q- In the case of Lang Tombong Tamba, do you know when the de-kiting was done?

A- I was not in the country then; although I was appointed CDS, but somebody was acting as CDS.

Cross-examination of the 10th prosecution witness Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh by lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka, the counsel for the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th accused persons.

Q- Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh you said, "I made several calls to confirm whether Ebrima Ceesay works at the President's Office. "Why don't you make enquiries before rather than after the instruction?"

A- Initially, I believed the information was correct.

DPP Recalls Lamin Cham - PW5

Lamin Cham PW5 was re-called by the DPP on the 8th of April 2010 to give evidence that he (PW5) obtained Omar Bun Mbye's cautionary statement.

He testified that on 9th December, he obtained the cautionary statement and particulars of Omar Bun Mbye, the 2nd accused person, and it was read to him in the presence of an independent witness in the English Language.

He further testified: "I told the 2nd accused person that he is not forced to say anything unless he wishes to, and whatever he says in the statement will be written down and may be used as evidence in court."

PW5 told the court that the 2nd accused person accepted the statement, and he signed it and the independent witness also signed the cautionary statement.

Inspector Cham further adduced that Omar Bun Mbye was also given a cautionary form, and he wrote his own statement, adding "I endorsed my name on 2nd accused person's statement." Inspector Cham identified the statement in court through his name written on the statement, which was tendered in court without any objection from the defence, and was admitted as an exhibit and marked P10.

Cross-examination of PW5 in respect of the cautionary statement he obtained from Omar Bun Mbye by his counsel Pap Cheyassin Secka.

Q- Mr. Cham you are also part of the investigating panel of the alleged coup.

A- Yes, I'm part of the investigating team.

Q- And, when 2nd accused person's statement was taken, was it studied?

A- When he finished writing and endorse it by signing it, he later gave it to me which I passed to the investigating team.

Q- Did PW1 appear before an investigating team?

A- Yes.

Q- Do you remember PW1 saying that 2nd accused person attended meetings at the 1st accused person's residence?

A- Yes, I remember.

Q- Now in 2nd accused person's statement, did O.B. Mbye state that he has never seen nor spoken to the 1st accused person, since he was dismissed from the army?

A- Yes, 2nd accused person said that in his statement.

Q- To your knowledge, did the investigating team discover any information contradicting the statement made by 2nd accused person?

A- That was not part of my assignment. I have no knowledge of that, and I did not know.

Testimony of PW7:

The state also called a security operative, who was allowed to testify without disclosing his name, for security reasons. The security operative, who served as the seventh prosecution witness, told the court that: "I was among the investigation team in respect of the alleged coup plot. During the course of the investigation, I obtained the cautionary and voluntary statements of Bo Badgie, Kawsu Camara, Abdoulie Joof at different dates, and the statements were read to the three accused persons."

He told the court that he also obtained their particulars, and that everything was read to them in English, and that things happened in the presence of an independent witness. 

He said Bo Badjie wrote two statements, and the statements were admitted without objection from the defence counsel for the 3rd accused person and marked as exhibits P11 (B to C).

PW7 adduced that Kawsu Camara was also given a cautionary form for him to write his own statement but he (the 4th accused person) said he (PW7) should write it for him, which he did, and that he (PW7) endorsed it.

The statement which was identified by PW7 in court through his signature, was tendered in court without any objection from the defence, and was admitted as an exhibit and marked P12.

PW7 said the 7th accused person, Abdoulie Joof, was also given a cautionary form and he wrote his own statement, and that he (PW7) endorsed it.

PW7 identified that statement in court through his signature, it was tendered in court without any objection from the defence and was admitted as an exhibit and marked P13.

Below is the report in Question and Answer format of the cross-examination of the witness PW7 by lawyer Tambedou, the counsel for the 1st accused person and the 4th accused person:

Q- You were part of the investigating panel for the alleged coup?

A- Yes.

Q- Did the panel write a report at the end of the investigation?

A- Yes.

Q- Was this report sent to the Head of State?

A- I don't know.

Q- Do you remember the date of the report?

A- I cannot recall the date.

Q- Now, the 7th accused person was arrested on the 21st November 2009?

A- I cannot remember the actual date, but is around that date.

Q- And he was subsequently released?

A- Yes.

Q- This report of the panel; do you know whether it was written in October, November or December?

A- It was around December 2009.

Q- Lie Joof was released after the report was made.

A- Yes.

Q- And do you remember when Lie Joof was released?

A- I cannot remember.

Q- I put it to you that he was released on the 1st February 2010.

A- I can't remember.

Q- You remember that Ebrima Marreh (PW1) claimed to have seen the 7th accused person at Lang Tombong's house.

A- I did not read his testimonies.

Q- Did Ebrima Marreh appear before the panel?

A- Yes.

Q- When PW1 appeared before the panel, did he say that?

A-  It was not my role to listen to his testimonies.

Q- In the statement of 7th accused person, did he deny attending any meeting in the 1st accused person's house?

A- Yes.

Q- The 7th accused person denied knowing the 1st accused person's house?

A- Yes.

Q- Apart from PW1's statement and testimonies, did the panel find any other evidence to suggest that the 7th accused attended meetings at 1st accused person?s house?

A- Not to my knowledge.

Q- I put it to you that the 4th accused denied receiving any call from Ebrima Marreh.

A- I cannot remember anything on that statement.

Q- Didn't the 4th accused deny that PW1 spent the night with him in Kanilai?

A- I could remember that statement.

Q- Apart from PW1, did any person appear before the panel and mention the 4th accused person's name.

A- I cannot remember.

Q- I put it to you that no other person suggested the name of the 4th accused person.

A- I cannot remember that.

Q- Was any voluntary statement taken from the 7th accused person?

A- Not to my knowledge.

Q- Was there any confrontation between Bo Badgie and Ebrima Marreh (PW1)?

A- I cannot remember.

Q- I put it to you that there was no confrontation between Bo Badgie and Ebrima Marreh.

A- I don't know.

End of PW7's Testimony

Testimonies of PW8:

Another security operative, whose name was also not disclosed, for security reasons, following an application made by the DPP, testified as the eighth prosecution witness (PW8). He told the court that he works as a civil servant at the NIA headquarters, and he knows all the accused persons.

He said: "It was on the 15th of December 2009. I was instructed by my boss to go with the investigating team to Bissau as a photographer."

He adduced that when they arrived in Bissau, they went to the police detention centre of Bissau, and that the investigators went in to meet Rui Jabbi Gassama, "while I waited outside, and they were discussing in the detention centre." 

PW8 told the court that, on the following day, 16th December 2009, they went to Kachew together with one police officer of Guinea Bissau, adding that when they arrived there, again he waited inside the car while the investigating team went to meet their counterparts in Kachew.

PW8 said that eventually the team came back to him, where he was seated in the car, and they went to the boat called Marde-Bissau, where he took pictures under instructions from the leader of the investigating team.

"I took several pictures from inside and outside of the boat," he told the court. According to PW8, after taking the photographs, they headed back to Bissau and went to one restaurant, called Samaritan and there he took photos of the restaurant under instructions from the investigating team."

He added: "I left Bissau on 19th December 2009 with the investigating team to Banjul."  According to PW8, the investigating team came to The Gambia along with Rui Jabbi Gassama.

He further told the court that, on 21st December 2009, an identification parade was conducted at the NIA headquarters, and that on that day a lot of people were called to line-up, while Rui Jabbi Gassama was not present. He said Ngorr Secka was called to join the line, after which Rui Jabbi Gassama was called to inspect the line and identify Ngorr Secka among the lot. He told the court that it was during the time of inspection that Rui Jabbi Gassama touched Ngorr Secka, and he was instructed to take the photograph of the event of touching and identification by Rui Jabbi Gassama. 

He further told the court that, on the 24th December 2009, another identification parade was conducted at the NIA headquarters and that, on that day, again a lot of people were called to line-up, while Rui Jabbi Gassama was not present, and Bo Badgie was called to join the line.

He said Rui Jabbi Gassama was again called for the second time to inspect the line, and he identified Bo Badgie among the people in the line. He said Rui Jabbi Gassama touched Bo Badgie, and he was instructed to take the photograph of the event as on the first occasion.

He adduced that when Ngorr Secka and Bo Badgie had already left, Lang Tombong Tamba was called to position himself in the line, and a similar inspection was conducted for Rui Jabbi Gassama to identify who is Lang Tombong among the people in the line, and subsequently he identified Lang Tombong Tamba.
The eighth prosecution witness further revealed that the photos were taken to Techno Photo Lab in Serrekunda for development and printing.

"I attached the negative of each picture on the back of the photo, and endorsed my signature at the back and handed them to the investigation team," PW8 informed the court.

The DPP tendered the pictures of the boat in court, and they were admitted as exhibits (P14 A to J).
Pictures of the Samaritan Restaurant were also tendered and admitted as exhibit P15. The pictures of the identification parade were also tendered in court and admitted as exhibits P16, P17 and P18, respectively.

Cross-examination of the 8th prosecution witness by Lawyer Tambedou, the counsel for the 1st accused person.

Q- When was Rui Jabbi Gassama taken to the NIA?

A- I don't know.

Q- Did you see Rui Jabbi Gassama again before the 21st day of December 2009?

A- No.

Q- Between the 21st and 24th do you know where he was?

A- I don?t know.

Q- I put it to you that he was held at the NIA headquarters.

A- I don't know.

Q- Did you agree with me that the people who appeared in the line of exhibit P16 are the same people on exhibit P17?

A- Yes.

Q- By the time Rui Jabbi Gassama came to identify for the second parade he has seen those people in the line for the first time?

A- Yes.

Q- Look at exhibit P18; the people in exhibit P18. Are any of them in exhibit P16 and exhibit P17?

A- No.

Q- These people who are in the exhibit. They are all working for the NIA?

A- I don't know.

Q- Do you recall PW7?

A- There are many names like that of PW7. I don't know any person of that name.

Q- I put it to you that the first person in exhibit P16 is Ngorr Secka.

A- Yes.

Q- Do you know the last person on exhibit P16?

A- How can I recognise him, and how can I know him.

Q- Most of the people in exhibit P16, exhibit P17 and exhibit P18 are NIA officers?

A- I don't know.

Q- I put it to you that before you came to court this morning today, on the 8th April 2010, you were sitting with PW7 and chatting with him.

A- I cannot remember.

Q- You know that Bo Badgie was one time the DG of the NIA?

A- Yes.

Q- You also know that Ngorr Secka rose-up to the rank of Deputy Director General of NIA?

A- Yes.

Q- Do you know that Rui Jabbi Gassama identified Lang Tombong Tamba and Bo Badgie in Guinea Bissau from the Daily Observer edition of the 12th October 2009?

A- I don't know.

Q- Do you know that Rui Jabbi Gassama (PW2), also identified Lang Tombong and Bo Badgie in the same edition of the Daily Observer in The Gambia before the identification parade?

A- I don't know.

Q- I am putting it to you that Rui Jabbi Gassama wrote in his 16th December 2009 statement at the NIA admitting to the fact that he identified Lang Tombong and Bo Badgie, both accused persons, in Bissau and in The Gambia.

A- I don't know.

Cross-examination of the 8th prosecution witness by lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka, the counsel for the 2nd, 3rd, 5th ,6th and 7th  accused persons.

Q- During the identification parade, in December 2009, were you standing in the same place with Rui Jabbi Gassama?

A- No.

Q- From where you were standing, could you see where Rui Jabbi Gassama was standing?

A- No.

Q- The identification parade took place at the ground floor?

A- Yes.

Q- Where were you standing?

A- I was standing at the ground.

Q- Can you tell whether Rui Jabbi Gassma was at the ground floor or top floor?

A- I don't know.

Q- I am putting it to you that you cannot tell whether Rui Jabbi Gassama was able to see the parade line before he came to identify the accused persons.

A- I cannot tell.

Q- Do you know one Malick Jobarteh?

A- I know him.

Q- Did you see him when he went with the investigation team to Guinea- Bissau?

A- Yes.

Q- Do you remember whether he was with the visiting team throughout the period of the visit in Guinea-Bissau?

A- Not all the time, but sometimes.

Q- When the investigating team visited the detention centre was Malick Jobarteh there?

A- I cannot remember that. I was in the car waiting for them.

Q- Do you remember whether Malick Jobarteh was in the car that went to the detention centre?

A-I cannot remember.

The case continues today.

Author: Soury Camara
Source: Picture: CDS M.N. Kinteh