Taranga FM MD trial resumes, witness out of jurisdiction

Thursday, November 12, 2015
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Hadi Saleh Barkun, yesterday told court that the second prosecutionwitness (PW2), Fatou A. Drammeh, who was testifying in the seditious case involving Taranga FM MD, Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, “is out of the jurisdiction”.

When the case was called before Justice Simeone Ateh Abi at the Banjul High Court, DPP Barkun announced his representation for the state, whilst lawyers Combeh Gaye-Coker and Segga Gaye appeared for the accused person.

“My lord, I have an application to make: the second prosecution witness is out of the jurisdiction of the court and we have made efforts to contact her, but what we could gather is that she is out of the jurisdiction. So with regards to that, we are applying for her to be interposed because we have another witness in court,” DPP said.

However, defence counsel Gaye-Coker argued that she has a right to continue with her cross-examination, because the DPP had not indicated whether the witness would come back or not.

In response, DPP Barkun said all that they could gather was that the witness was out of the jurisdiction, and they did all they could to reach her, but to no avail.

The trial judge then asked the DPP when the witness would return, and Barkun could not say.

When asked by the trial judge whether she was objecting to the application of the DPP, lawyer Gaye-Coker responded that she wants the case to proceed, in the interest of justice.

At this juncture, Lamin Ceesay, the third prosecution witness (PW3), was called to begin his testimony.

Mr Ceesay told the court he lives in Banjul and works at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

He adduced that he recognised the accused person, and that he also knew Fatou A. Drammeh (PW2) and Zainab Koneh.

The NIA operative told the court that sometime in July 2015, Ms Drammeh and Koneh came to their NIA office complaining that the accused sent them, through telephone, a seditious text of the President of the Republic of The Gambia.

According to him, based on that, the Taranga FM Manager was arrested and brought before him for investigation.

He said confrontations were made and the mobile phones of PW2, Koneh, and the accused were taken and extractions were made, the picture was downloaded and printed.

The NIA operative further told the court that one of the seditious materials was a gun pointed at the President, and that the accused sent that picture to Ms Drammeh and Miss Koneh.

At this juncture, the DPP showed the document to the witness and he identified it as the document extracted from the text messages sent to PW2 and Miss Koneh.

The DPP applied to tender it in court as an exhibit.

However, defence counsel Gaye-Coker objected, arguing that the DPP had not laid the proper foundation to tender the document as an exhibit, which according to her contravenes section 22 of the Evidence Act.

She cited other law authorities to support her argument, and urged the court to reject the application as section 22 of the Evidence Act had not been complied with.

Replying to the objection, the DPP said the objection of his learned friend was a misconception of the said section.

The section, he argued, did not in any way refer to a document printed by using a computer.

At this stage, the trial judge adjourned the case until 17 November 2015, at 4pm for ruling on the admissibility of the document, and continuation of the hearing.

Author: Halimatou Ceesay