mini trial to determine the voluntariness of the cautionary and voluntary
statements of seven former officials of the defunct National Intelligence
Agency (NIA) began yesterday, 6 October, 2018, before Justice Kumba
Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul.
Commencing the mini-trial, prosecution’s counsel R.Y. Mendy who led the mini-trial called Alagie K. Manneh, a detective sergeant attached to the Serious Crime Unit of The Gambia Police Force Headquarters in Banjul who opened the testimony into the mini-trial.
The witness testified that apart from obtaining Yankuba Badjie’s statements he also obtained the cautionary and voluntary statements of Babucarr Sallah.
The witness described the ways and manner he obtained Babucarr Sallah’s statements in the presence of an independent witness and after the witness’s identification of the said statements, Counsel Mendy applied to tender the said statements as exhibits.
However, S. Fatty of the National Agency for Legal Aid, counsel for Babucarr Sallah objected to the admissibility of the said statements on the ground that the recorder of the statement did not record what he was told to record by his client.
Lawyer Fatty submitted that his client was not conscious at the time of recording his statement but was drugged and induced to sign his statement against his will.
Lawyer R.Y. Mendy debunked defence’s claim and argued that the defence did not state how the accused person was induced and the nature of the inducement.
Thereafter, Lawyer R.Y. Mendy applied to interpose the witness and submitted that the purpose of interposing the witnesses is to make sure that they conduct one mini-trial.
The application was granted and one Inspector Senghore of the Serious Crime Unit at the Police Headquarters was called and he testified that in February 2017, he obtained cautionary and voluntary statements from Sheikh Omar Jeng, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansaray and Lamin Lang Sanyang in the presence of one Fabakary Kinteh, an independent witness at the Criminal Intelligence Unit office at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.
Asked by Counsel Mendy why he recorded the statements at the CIU office, Inspector Senghore replied that the said office was convenient.
Explaining how he got Sheikh Omar Jeng, the witness testified that on the day in question, he was instructed by the officer commanding, Sp R. Gomez to report at Kairaba Police Station and upon arrival at Kairaba Police Station, he met Sheikh Omar Jeng who was introduced to him as the director of Operations of the defunct NIA and he was asked to escort the accused to the Police Headquarters in Banjul.
Regarding how he got Haruna Susso to the Police Headquqrters, the witness testified that Haruna Susso was brought by his comrades from the NIA now SIS.
As for Tamba Mansaray, Inspector Senghore disclosed that Tamba Mansaray came to the Police headquarters upon the instruction of Haruna Susso who was his OC at the time.
Meanwhile, the cautionary and voluntary statements of Haruna Susso and Lamin Lang Sanyang were admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibits without any objection from the defence counsels.
However, lawyer Ibrahim Jallow, the defence counsel for Sheikh Omar Jeng and lawyer S. Fatty, the counsel for Tamba Mansaray objected to the admissibility of their statements on the grounds that their statements were obtained involuntarily.
Lawyer I. Jallow submitted that his client was induced by threats and promises to make his statements, adding that there was no independent witness at the time of making same.
Lawyer Saikou Fatty submitted that the legal procedure was not followed by the recorder of his client statements at the time of obtaining the statements.
Hearing continues today.
It could be recalled that nine former officials of the defunct NIA; Yankuba Badjie, Louie Richards Leese Gomez, Sheikh Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansaray,Lamin Darboe and Lamin lang Sanyang were initially indicted with multiple charges including the alleged murder of Late Ebrima Solo Sandeng, assault causing grievous bodily harm, abduction, making false documents without proper authority amongst others.
They were arraigned before the court but as the trial progresses, nolle-prosequi was filed by the State to withdraw charges against Yusupha Jammeh and was accordingly granted by the court and recently the former deputy director, Louie Richard Gomez was reported to have passed away and the court declares that the prosecution applied to withdraw charges against him and the court declares that the indictment against him no longer has legal effect.