National Assembly Member’s credibility tested

Monday, February 25, 2019

The defence team in the NIA case recently tested the credibility of Fatoumata Jawara, National Assembly Member for Talindingkunjang Constituency, under cross-examination before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul.

Defence Counsel Mene asked her the date she gave her wrapper to one of her lawyers. She responded that she could not be specific on the date, adding that she could not remember either the month but she gave the wrapper to her lawyer in 2016. She was asked how many months after 14th April, 2016, did she give the wrapper to her lawyer. She stated that she could not recall.

She was again asked after her release on the 8th December, 2016, how many months or weeks before she gave the wrapper to her lawyer. She replied that she did not know.  Counsel Mene asked her whether she gave the wrapper to her lawyer more than a month before she was released. She answered that she did not know.

It was put to her that she had several lawyers at the time she was represented in a criminal prosecution at the High Court, but she told the court that she was represented by lawyers. Asked whether she was represented by those lawyers at the High Court in her criminal prosecution, she adduced that they did when she was at Mile 2 Prison. She further added that her lawyers did not see them when they were at Janjanbureh.

She was asked whether she was saying that she gave her wrapper to her lawyer at Mile 2, and she responded that she did not say so, adding that not all her lawyers were present during her criminal prosecution. She noted that she could not count the lawyers who represented her during her criminal prosecution. She said she knew that they were represented by genuine Gambian lawyers.

Asked whether she could name the lawyers, she answered that she did not know their names. “Surely you do know the name of the lawyer you gave your wrapper,” Counsel Mene put it to her. She said she did not.

She was asked whether it was correct that she and Fatou Camara were taken to the NIA around 2 a.m., and she replied that she just suggested this time. It was put to her that she and Fatou Camara arrived at the NIA shortly before 3 a.m., and she replied that they arrived there at night.

It was put to her that she said she could not identify the people who tortured her, and asked whether she had ever heard some people referred as ‘junglers.’ She responded in the negative. She was again asked whether she and Nogoi had any discussion in which the word junglers came up, and she said that she could not recall.

It was again put to her that Nogoi told her that the NIA officers were useless otherwise the junglers could not come from outside to beat them at the NIA. She denied it. Put to her that Nogoi did tell her, and she (Fatoumata Jawara) did mention this in her statement, and she answered that she did not know. It was again put to her that the junglers told them that they were birds of the same feathers as the NIA, but she said she could not recall and could not also recall the date she made a statement. She confirmed that her telephone number was 7529347 and she lives at Talinding, adding that she is a parliamentarian.

At this juncture, she was given the statement and told that her name, telephone number, address and her occupation as a parliamentarian were written on it. She confirmed it, noting that she did not know whether her signature was on the statement.

It was put to her that the signature was hers and she signed it in the presence of one Sergeant 3576 Fatoumata  A. Bah on the 4th June, 2017, and she replied that she did not know. Asked whether apart from the statement she made on the 4th June, 2017, was there any other statement she made, she disclosed that she could not recall.

It was also put to her that it was the only statement she made to the police but she answered in the negative. “The only reason you are claiming that you cannot recognize your own statement is because you know the conversation between you and Nogoi about the junglers coming to the NIA and beating people up was recorded in your statement,” Counsel Men challenged her.  She responded in the negative.

Defence Counsel Jallow also challenged the witness under cross-examination. He asked her what time she closed school on the 14th April, 2016. In response, she said that she could not recall because she was printing handouts, and she could not either recall the time she arrived at Westfield and at the PIU Headquarters. It was put to her that she could recall that the PIU were chasing and beating people, but she answered in the negative. She also told the court that she could not recall the time she was taken to Mile 2, adding that she could not recall how many people were arrested and taken to Mile 2 and also to NIA.

It was put to her that she became unconscious at the NIA several times, and in response, she said that she could not recall. She disclosed further that she did not know how many times she became unconscious. It was again put to her that she could not recall when she was arrested at Westfield and taken to the PIU, Mile 2 and NIA. She responded in the affirmative.

It was put to her that when she was unconscious, she did not know what was happening. She replied that she might know some and might not know some. Asked how many people were present during her interview at the NIA, she said she could not recall the number of people present during the first interview, and there was a panel during the second interview.

She was asked whether it was true that she became unconscious during the third interview, and she stated that she could hear some voices.  It was put to her that even though she was unconscious, she could hear voices. She answered in the positive.

Defence Counsel Fatty rose and asked the witness whether she would agree with him that she was part of the demonstration at Westfield. In response, she said she was not aware. It was put to her that she said she saw people running to different directions, and she stated that she did not know. Still under cross-examination, she told the court that although she was blind-folded, she could hear people talking. It was put to her that she was beaten by the junglers . She replied that she was escorted by the NIA officers at night and was beaten by them. She was asked whether she knew that the NIA was a government institution and not an entity. “I know that the NIA was a centre where human rights were violated,” she told the court.

Hearing continues today.

 

Author: Dawda Faye