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Bissau agent testifies in treason trial

Apr 7, 2010, 1:48 PM | Article By: Soury Camara

Kabirou Saidy, a native of Sifoe and Gambian security agent working at the Gambian Embassy in Bissau, yesterday informed the high court that he knows Ngorr Secka, the 6th accused person.

Kabiro Saidy, who is the third prosecution witness ( PW3), was testifying in the ongoing treason trial involving Lt General Lang Tombong Tamba and seven other accused persons.

"I know Ngorr Secka; he is my boss, as the deputy head of mission in the Gambian Embassy in Bissau," PW3 told the court, and recalled that "I was together with Ngorr Secka in the same street in Beda Suda, and we used to be together day and night."

Mr Saidy further informed the court that he (PW3) is still on the pay role as the Gambian security agent in Bissau.

"I used to accompany Ngorr Secka to many places, including Samaritan Restaurant in Bissau. But I never knew what was his mission there, at the restaurant."

According to PW3, whenever they go to the restaurant, he normally stays in the car while Ngorr Secka entered the restaurant.

PW3 also told the court that whenever Ngorr Secka is coming out of the restaurant, he (the 6th accused person) comes out with many people. Among them, "I only recognised Rui Jabbi Gassama (PW2)," he said.

"I do not know why I stayed in the car for 1 hour 30 minutes, but Ngorr Secka often asked me to wait in the car," he told the court.

"I went to Samaritan Restaurant six times, and during all those times I saw Rui Jabbi Gassama (PW2); and there was a time he (Ngorr Secka) came out with one Omar Camara," he added.

Mr. Saidy said "Rui Jabbi Gassama used to come to the Gambian Embassy in Bissau with a vehicle, but always stayed outside and called Ngorr Secka for them to go out," adding that "whenever they return at the embassy they don't meet me there."

PW3 further testified that he never travelled with Ngorr Secka outside Bissau.

"There was a time certain people came to Ngorr Secka in the house, but I don't know why they were there; and among those people I identified Rui Jabbi Gassama," PW3 continued to testify.

He further told the court that because of Omar Barro Camara, the 6th accused person (Ngorr Secka) "avoid telling me his activities, since Omar Camara told Ngor Secka to be careful of what he (Ngorr Secka) discusses with me (PW3), since I am an informant to the Gambian government."  PW3 said that, as a result, "I don't know where the 6th accused goes."

Mr. Saidy said that "I have cautioned the 6th accused person, based on our relationship, to be mindful after seeing the 6th accused person moving with certain people," adding that he (PW3) only knows them by sight, but cannot identify them.

He further recalled a place called Amin-Sa in Pilung Guinea-Bissau, which Saidy said, was shown to the 6th accused by Omar Camara whom, he continued, "always takes Ngorr Secka there."

According to PW3, all kinds of activities take place there, in Amin-Sa, including Mafia activities.

"I advised Ngorr Secka that he is a diplomat, and should avoid such places," as rogues from The Gambia, Senegal, Bissau and Conakry frequent Amin-Sa.

Ngorr Secka finally agreed to my suggestion, and he (Ngorr) told me "you know Bissau more than I do," stating that Ngorr Secka had not listened to his advice "since if he did, this episode will not have happened," PW3 added. "This was how our relationship ended."

Below is the report in question and answer format of the evidence of the witness, Kaibirou Saidy, during cross-examination by Lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka, the counsel for Omar Bun Mbye, Bo Badgie, Modou Gaye, Ngorr Secka and Abdoulie Joof.

Q-         How long did you know Rui Jabbi Gassama?

A-         I cannot tell how long I knew him. I knew him through his contacts with Ngorr Secka.

Q-        You said you saw Rui Jabbi Gassama and Ngorr Secka. How did you know he is Rui Jabbi Gassama?

A-         I knew he was Rui Jabbi Gassama, because when they come out of the restaurant, they will come to the car and continue talking.

Q-         Did you know Rui Jabbi Gassama before you saw him at the restaurant?

A-         I did not know Rui Jabbi Gassama, before I saw him at the restaurant.

Q-         Do you remember making a statement on the 31st December 2009?

A-         Yes, I can remember making a statement at the NIA.

Q-         Do you remember saying among the people I saw, I only recognise Omar Camara, who used to sleep in the house?

A-         I did not say that.

Q-         In the same statement, do you remember saying Rui Jabbi Gassama visited Ngorr Secka at the Embassy on two occasions?

A-         That is what I said in court.

Q-         I am putting it to you that you never knew what the 6th accused person discussed with whoever Ngorr Secka was talking to?

A-         I don't have any knowledge of their discussions.


The following is the final part of the cross-examination of the witness (PW2) Rui Jabbi Gassama by defence lawyer Secka.


Q -        Mr. Kujabi, can you briefly describe to the court what kind of training you have done as military intelligence?

A-         How to penetrate people, and know what they are doing, and reveal it. I am also trained on how to attack a military camp with plenty of well-trained soldiers.

Q-         Did you maintain that, from the beginning, your intention was to know what the accused persons want, and to reveal it?

A-         Yes.

Q-         As a military intelligence officer, do you know how to record a conversation from a cell-phone?

A-         We got our own special radio recorder.

Q-         Do you know how to record conversations from a cell-phone?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         How well do you know the present Director General of the NIA?

A-         It was when I came to collect my money, after the training at Lang Tombong's house during the third meeting. From there, I went to the NIA and revealed the secret there.

Q-         Do you remember saying in this court that you received the money (30,000 Euro) before the training took place?

A-         I never said that.

Q-         Mr. Kujabi do you write in English or French?

A-         Yes, I can write in French.

Q-         As an intelligence officer whose intention was right from the beginning to reveal a coup plot, do you keep a diary of events?

A-         No.

Q-         I put it to you that you did not keep a diary, because there was nothing to be recorded?

A-         What I said is true, because there was something recorded. I explained to the NIA and requested from them to give me an officer to go with me to Guinea-Bissau, to take pictures and record the conversation between the 6th accused person, Kukoi and I myself. I proposed that a radio will be in my pocket to do the recording, while the officer stands at a distance to take pictures of the people I am dealing with, that is, Ngorr Secka and Kukoi. I also wanted to take the officer where the boat was, and to take the officer to the ground where I trained the mercenaries at Bambadinka.

Q-         Did the NIA do that?

A-         They never did that, and I explained the same thing to Captain Jallow at State House.

Q-         When you visited the Director General of the NIA, was it after you completed the training and you collected the 30,000 Euro?

A-         Yes, that is correct.

Q-         Did you show the 30,000 to the DG of NIA?

A-         I never showed him the 30,000 Euro, and I will never show him because I am a businessman who does not want to lose.

Q-         After your first and second meetings, why did you not inform the NIA?

A-         Because I don't want to lose my money as a businessman.

Q-         I put it to you that you are doing all this for money, not because you love your country?

A-         I refuse the suggestion, because if it was for money I will sell the information to the NIA. I revealed the secret because I did not want to see my President killed with his family.

Q-         Did you know that Bambadinka is 114 km from the border between Bissau and Guinea-Conakry?

A-         I don't know, because between Bambadinka and Guinea Conakry, there is a bush where you can stay for 100 years.

Q-         Do you know a military base in Bambadinka?

A-         Yes, I know there, because the water we used to drink was from their camp. They bring it from their tank.

Q-         So you would agree that there is a military camp in Bambadinka?

A-         Yes.

Q-         Do you know the town called Bafata, just 30 km from Bambadinka?

A-         No, I don't know.

Q-         I am putting it to you that the main camp is in Bafata, the old capital of Bissau

A-         I don't know.

Below is another question and answer format of the cross examination of the witness Rui Jabbi Gassama by lawyer Hawa Sissay Sabally, the counsel for the 8th accused person.

Q-         Mr. Jabbi Gassama or Kujabi, which one do you prefer?

A-         Jabbi Gassama.

Q-         You said that you were born in Bundung?

A-         Yes.

Q-         You said that you attended Bundung Primary and Nusrat High School?

A-         Yes.

Q-         Do you remember your age at the time you were in Nusrat, and the name of the Principal?

A-         I cannot remember.

Q-         After leaving Nusrat you said that you went to your uncle in Senegal?

A-         Yes.

Q-         You travelled to France?

A-         Yes.

Q-         Can you tell the court the travel document you used to travel to France?

A-         Is a Senegalese nationality passport.

Q-         From France to New York, which passport did you use?

A-         The same passport they gave me.

Q-         From New York to Bissau, which passport did you use?

A-         I was deported to Bissau, because at that time I was selling drugs in the USA; then I threw away the Senegalese passport. And when they caught me in the USA, I was asked whether I would want to be deported or be detained there, but I told them to deport me to my country, Bissau.

Q-         Why do you have these two names: Rui Jabbi Gassama and Ousainou Kujabi?

A-         Because I involved myself in drug business, that is why I got many names and nationalities.

Q-         Mr. Kujabi, can you explain why you said in a law court that you sell drugs for the Bissau authorities?

A-         I don't know why I said that.

Q-         Did you know a court of law can punish you for the offence of drug trafficking, since it is an international crime?

At this point, the DPP rose and objected to the question. He further said that every witness needs to be protected against what they say, as he put it, the question being asked may frighten the witness from giving further evidence.

Hawa Sisay Sabally replied that the objection made by the DPP is misunderstood. She said: "I did not make the application for the witness to be arrested and prosecuted." She posited that the witness has already given his evidence-in-chief and is only responding to cross-examination.

She pointed out that under our law "we have statute that deals with drug trafficking," arguing that  it  is the responsibility of the DPP to arrest and prosecute the witness or hand him over to the Interpol.

According to the counsel, it is the witness who associated himself with drug trafficking. If not, the question would not have been asked.

The DPP then cited Section 178 of the Evidence Act to back-up his statement, noting that "no witness should be asked a question that will expose or incriminate him."

The court then overruled the question on the basis that the counsel cannot further incriminate the witness.

Q-         Did you examine the boat that your friend Rui Damass was selling?

A-         I only saw the boat, and  entered  into it to put on the engine to know whether the boat is in good condition.

Q-         A boat has different weight, there is gross weight, pay load with fuel and payload without fuel, which of these three did you check?

A-         I don't know what you are talking about. I just entered to see whether the boat has space to take the ammunition, and put on the engine to know whether the boat is good or not.

Q-         I am putting it to you that the payload with fuel will determine the load a boat can carry not the space.

A-         I don't know that.

Q-         The arms and ammunition - do you know the weight of the mortar and the machine gun?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         The motor vehicles you offered to sell to Ngorr Secka and Kukoi - how many are they?

A-         They are four vehicles.

Q-         What is the passenger capacity?

A-         Each car can take seven passengers.

Q-         Now seven times four is equal to twenty-eight.

A-         I did not know.

Q-         I put it to you that it is twenty-eight.

A-         Yes.

Q-         You said that there were 300 mercenaries and out of these 200 were Gambians, were these mercenaries supposed to travel together?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         When were they supposed to leave Bissau to Tambacounda, and eventually to Farafenni?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         In your evidence you said that they will pass by Tambacounda, Kaolack, Barra and then to Farafenni?

A-         Yes, that was what they told me, and that others will come by sea.

Q-         I put it to you that there are many security check-points, and that a convoy will not pass without being noticed by the security agents?

A-         They will pass because they are not having arms with them.

Q-         I said that a convoy will not pass without being noticed?

A-         I do not know if they would be noticed.

Q-         Do you know the distance between Kaolack to Barra and Barra to Farafenni?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         I put it to you that Kaolack to Barra is 100 km and Barra to Farafenni is the same?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         I further put it to you that Kaolack to Farrafenni is 80 km.

A-         I don't know.

Q-         I put it to you that the Gambian mercenaries know their terrain and instead of taking 100 km they would go in for 80 km?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         You talk about Liberia, Sierra Leone and even Guinea- Bissau and you said that you did not want The Gambia to be in the same situation, if the coup should take place. Did you say so?

A-         Yes.

Q-         There was civil war in each of these countries?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         Is there a distinction between a civil war and a coup-plot?

A-         I don't know.

Q-         You said that you went to Sierra Leone. Why did you go there?

A-         I went to train mercenaries, but what they will do after the training I don't know about that.

Q-         Mr. Jabbi Gassama you said that you were paid 30,000 Euro for the training, which lasted for 45-days?

A-         Yes, I was paid 30,000 Euro.

Q-         How is business in Bissau?

A-         Very fine.

Q-         The cocaine you sell is it cut cocaine or un-cut cocaine?

A-         I always sell the strong cocaine, but I don't know the names.

Q-         You alleged that the 6th accused person bought one kilo of cocaine for 14,000 Euro and introduced other people to you?

A-         I did not say that.

But later the witness said "Yes" to the same question.

Q-         One kilo of cocaine is 14,000 Euro and two kilos is 28,000 Euro that equals to your 45-days training of mercenaries for 30,000 Euro.

A-         Yes, it is business.

Q-         I am putting it to you that there was never a coup plot that you are aware of, that included Lang Tombong, Bo Badgie and Ngorr Secka.

A-         Of course, there was a coup plot.

Q-         I further put it to you that the NIA never listened to you, because you have nothing credible to offer?

A-         They listened to me. That's why the NIA Director took me to State House. But the Secretary-General at the State House did not allow me and the DG of the NIA to see the President.

Q-         "Where was that boat supposed to be docked in The Gambia?"

A-         I don't know.

Q-         Did they tell you how the mercenaries will receive the arms from the boat?

A-         I did not know, and they did not tell me.

Q-         How did you go into State House?

A-         I just went direct to State House, because I am a Gambian. I met with one Captain Jallow at the gate. When I explained to him what I told the NIA Director General, then Captain Jallow took me inside the State House, and called his boss the commander of the guards, who asked me and I explained the same to him.

Q-         In your evidence-in-chief you said that when you got a Bissau Identity Card; you threw away the Gambian Identity Card. When did you adopt your Gambian Identity Card again?

A-         I still have my Bissau Identity Card.


Re-examination by DPP Richard Chenge:

Q-         In your examination-in-chief you said that you completed your training of mercenaries before you came to The Gambia, and you were paid in Lang Tombong's house. And under cross-examination you said that you collected the 30,000 Euro from the 1st accused person and you went back to Guinea-Bissau and commenced training the mercenaries. Which of the two is correct?

Lawyer Secka’s Objection

Lawyer Secka objected to the question asked by the DPP on the basis that it has offended the two cardinal rules covering cross-examination. He submitted that re-examination is allowed only on two occasions. That is, to clear any ambiguity that arose during cross-examination of the witness and the second circumstance is when a new matter arises from cross-examination.

Counsel then referred the court to Law of Evidence, the 2nd edition written by Hassan Jallow at page 226, which he read in court. "Re-examination is not to remedy errors or omission in examination-in-chief. If a witness said one thing in his evidence-in-chief and says something different in his cross-examination there is no ambiguity."

DPP's Reply

DPP replied by quoting Section 192, sub-section (3) of the Evidence Act, saying that it is self-explanatory. He submitted that re-examination should be directed at matters that arise during cross-examination.

According to him, the purpose is for the witness to explain why there was ambiguity, and promised to furnish court with other authorities on the seeming inconsistency.

Counsel Secka Again

Counsel Secka told the court that there is a difference between clearing an ambiguity and rectifying an error or trying to remedy a palpable inconsistency. He further submitted that in order to rectify the damage, the DPP needed to call another witness.

The court ruled that the situation is ambiguous and needed further explanation, and ruled that the question be answered.

A-         I finished the training and after, I came to collect the money at Lang Tombong's house during the third meeting, where they introduced me to one Ebrima Marreh.

Hearing continues today.