Emmanuel E. Chime, the defence counsel for Yankuba Badjie, the embattled former
director general of the defunct National Intelligence Agency yesterday objected
to the tendering and the admissibility of his client cautionary and voluntary
statements before presiding judge, Kumba Sillah-Camara at the High Court in
Lawyer Chime’s objection came following an application made by the prosecution’s lead counsel, Antouman A.B. Gaye to tender the cautionary statement purportedly made by Yankuba Badjie as exhibit before the court through one detective, Sgt. Alagie K. Manneh attached to the Serious Crime Unit of The Gambia Police Force Headquarters in Banjul.
Alagie K. Manneh who testified as the 22nd prosecution witness in the ongoing criminal trial involving the State against Yankuba Badjie and seven other former officials of the defunct NIA accused of conspiracy to murder, murder of the late UDP activist, Solo Sandeng amongst others told the court that he obtained the cautionary and voluntary statements of the defunct NIA former DG.
Alagie K. Manneh recalled that in February 2017 during the course of his work, he obtained the said statements from Yankuba Badjie and Babucarr Sallah.
The 22nd prosecution witness gave a scenario of how he obtained the cautionary statement of the 1st accused person on the 21st February, 2017 at the Brusubi Police Station.
The witness disclosed that Yankuba Badjie’s voluntary statement was obtained at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.
Alagie K. Manneh testified that the cautionary statement of the 1st accused person, Yankuba Badjie was recorded inside the office of the assistant station officer in Brusubi Police Station under a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.
He pointed out that an independent witness was present when he recorded Yankuba Badjie’s cautionary statement, adding that there were no promises made to him before recording his cautionary statement.
The witness further pointed out that Yankuba Badjie was never threatened before his cautionary statement was obtained, adding that Yankuba Badjie was given the choice of writing his own statement but opted that the witness writes his statement for him.
Alagie K. Manneh disclosed that before recording Yankuba Badjie’s cautionary statement, he was cautioned in English language in the present of an independent witness and he then made his statements in English language.
The witness told the court that after recording the statement, he read it out to him and he signed, the independent witness signed and he the recorder also signed.
At this point, lawyer A.A.B. Gaye produced a document and gave it to the witness who identified it as the very statement he recorded but as lawyer Gaye sought to tender the cautionary statement in evidence, lawyer E.E. Chime objected to the tendering and admissibility of the statement on the grounds that they were not served with the said statement.
Laywer Chime submitted that tantamount to trial by ambush, adding that they have been taken by surprise.
He submitted that such an omission by the prosecution not to furnish the defence with the accused person statement contravenes the provision of Section 24 (3) (c) of the 1997 Constitution which states that the defence shall be provided adequate time and facility to prepare for their case in a criminal trial.
Lawyer Chime argued that the cautionary statement of Yankuba Badjie, sought to be tendered by the prosecution is part of the facility that ought to have been provided to the defence, particularly the 1st accused person.
Lawyer Chime submitted that the charge the accused person is arraigned is not misdemeanor but a capital offence and argued that failure to serve the defence with both the voluntary and cautionary statements tantamount to miscarriage of justice.
In his brief response, veteran lawyer Antouman A.B. Gaye disclosed that lawyers are officers of the court and they are duty bound to assist the court in making sure that justice is done.
Lawyer Gaye opined that when an objection of this nature is being taken what the court needs to do is to conduct a trial within trial (voir dire).
Hearing continues today at 1:00 p.m.