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Bombardier in the witness box

Jun 9, 2010, 12:12 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K.Marenah

Lt. Colonel Kawsu Camara, alias Bombardier, the fourth accused person in the ongoing treason trial involving him and seven others, has denied conspiring with other accused persons to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.

Kawsu Camara the fourth defence witness (PW4) was testifying in his own defence yesterday, at the high court in Banjul presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi.

Bombardier as he is widely known told the court that he was a military officer posted at Kanilai in the Foni Kansala district of the Western Region of the Gambia.

"I was enlisted in the then Gambia Gemdarmerie on the 18th August 1988. I started as a recruit, then promoted to Lance Corporal, then Corporal, then Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, then promoted to Lieutenant, then Major and finally Lt. Colonel the rank I held until 20 November 2009."

"I was posted at Kanilai village under the State Guard Battalion, and was in-charge of border patrol and at the same time responsible for fuel transactions for Kanilai Family Farms. I was also in charge of the President's mother's security, whenever she is travelling," he told the court.

He said "almost every two days, I have to come to the Kombos, Serrekunda at the Gam-Petroleum office at Kairaba Avenue for requisition of fuel. This includes all the days. Normally, if the President goes to Kanilai on Fridays, the following day, will be Saturday, I would then come to the Gam-Petroleum for fuelling of convoy vehicles. At times I stay for 12 or 24 hours, because the Chief of Protocol must have a clearance from the President," he further testified.

Relationship with the 1st accused

"I know the 1st accused. I knew him when I was going to school because we all come from the same district in Foni Jarrol. I have worked with him, as he was one time Commander of State Guards, from 1994 to 2003, and I worked under him. After 2003, I did not work under him. I did not have outside relations with him, because I was too junior and I'm still junior, as far as the job is concerned," DW3 testified.

According to the defence witness, he knows the house of the 1st accused in Kololi in 2007.

On whether he has been to his residence in Kololi, he said: "When we were back from overseas mission with the President's mother, after leaving the President's mother's residence in Kotu, I took two minutes drive to the residence of the 1st accused house in Kololi where I asked for him, and his wife told me that he had gone out, as it was in the evening, I then proceeded to Kanilai."

On Evidence of PW1

He also told the court that he did not know the exact location of the 1st accused's residence in Bijilo. He said the evidence of PW1 (Ebrima ) that he had attended three meetings in the house of the 1st accused "is not true."

Bombardier also denied the allegation made by PW1 that he was assigned to monitor the President's movement. He also adduced that he had never communicated with the 1st accused, neither did he conspire with others to stage a coup plot.

Kawsu Camra also intimated to the court that "actually I was not arrested. It was on 20th November 2009, around 5pm in the evening, when I received a call from the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency that I should report to the NIA office in Banjul. That time I was escorting fuel to Kanilai Family Farms. I then released my driver to carry the fuel. After releasing the driver with the fuel, I then turned back and went directly to the NIA."

Upon arrival at the NIA, DW4 added, "I waited for five hours, when I was later taken to face a panel that night, where PW1 was brought in and the panel asked whether I know him. I replied that I know him as Ebrima, but I can't instantly remember his surname."

"I then informed the panel that the said boy (Ebrima) was one time arrested in a theft case at Fajara Barracks in March 2008, when he stole from the 1st accused person's wife."

How he came to Know PW1

The 4th accused explained to the court how he came to know (PW1) Ebrima Marreh. He said "some years back, in Kanilai village, PW1 broke and entered the former bodyguards commander's residence in Kanilai, where he (Ebrima) stole 300 US dollars from the late Major Musa Jammeh of GAF."

He adduced that PW1 was arrested by him together with his men on guard, and that after PW1 was interrogated, the said US$300 was found in his possession in the presence of Yankuba Colley, the present Mayor of Kanifing Municipality, ex-orderly to the President, Bakary Camara, and Buba Darboe, a convoy driver.

According to the witness, PW1 was then taken to the police station at Kanfenda village police post where he was counter-interrogated.  There, he (PW1) said he is from Bwiam village.

"At the police station, we released one of our vehicles with PW1 himself to go to Bwaim and collect the family, because then he was a juvenile. When his parents arrived, my lord, they confirmed that Ebrima is their son, and they pleaded for mercy. We then ordered the parents to go to the person affected, that is, the late Major Musa Jammeh, who agreed with the parents that he had seen his money. Then PW1 was released, with the condition that he is not supposed to go back to the presidential premises, including the entire Kanilai village," Bombardier told the court.

He adduced that both PW1 and his parents agreed, and was later released based on these conditions.

"I did not see him physically until 2007, when he called me on my phone and said to me 'it's Ebrima'. I told him 'who are you?' and he told me he is the one 'you arrested in Kanilai and I'm apologising for breaking and entering late Major Musa Jammeh's residence" Bombardier added.

"He said to me that 'I privatised your line', and further explained that he went to Africell and privatised my number so that if my number was called it will not appear. Then I ordered him to revoke this immediately, and he instantly put off his phone. Then I ordered my patrol team to search for him anywhere, so that he can be arrested," DW4 said.

"I did not hear from PW1 until in July 2008 at a programme held at Sheraton Hotel in the Gambia alongside Brufut Highway. It was during July 22 anniversary celebration, and my wife and sisters were invited at this programme in Sheraton. My wife called me over the phone and said that there is a boy who is disturbing them at their table, where they were seated, and that he is called Ebrima Bojang, a brother to Pa Bojang, who is a nephew to the President as stated by PW1," DW4 further stated.

He said his wife told him that PW1 (Ebrima Bojang) had told her that he was sent by his brother, Pa Bojang, 'and that if my wife accepted he (Pa Bojang) can marry her within 48 hours' and my wife responded that she's already married."

He testified that his wife informed him that one of his uncles was present when PW1 was talking to him.

"I then ordered my wife to give the phone to my uncle Buba Darboe to talk to him and I spoke to Buba and he told me the same thing. I came to ascertain through my uncle that it was PW1," he further testified.

Bombardier also told the court that Ebrima Bojang attended his wife's wedding programme, and that since then he had never heard from him again.

He also denied PW1's evidence that he had spent the night with him at Kanilai, adducing further that "I was never aware of PW1 going to Farafenni."

Kawsu Camara said he had never talked to PW1 on the 19th of November 2009, and that he made a statement to that effect, which he still stands by.

How he got to know the 2nd accused

"I know the 2nd accused. He was one time a member of the Gambia armed forces, and I had a working relationship with him. I don't have any work relationship with the 2nd accused, after work," Bombardier added.

How he got to know the 3rd accused
"I know the 3rd accused, as we worked together at State Guard, from 1995 to 2003. I don't have a working relationship with the 3rd accused, after work," he said.

How he got to know the 5th accused

"I know the 5th accused, as we have been working in the same force, the then Gendarmerie from 1988 to 18th August 1989," he added. After that period, "I did not have any working relationship with the 5th accused, and also there is no other relationship with the 5th accused," he stated.

How he got to know the 6th accused

"I know the 6th accused, as he at one time worked under the Office of the President, from 1989 to 1993, and after that I never had any working relationship with the 6th accused," he added.

About the 7th accused person

"I don't know the 7th accused. I have never conspired with any of the accused persons to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia," Bombardier told the court.

About the 8th accused person

"I don't know the 8th accused. I only recognised him at state functions. On February 2010, I was detained at Mile 2 Central Prison. On 12 February 2010 at around 9 am, I was picked up with the 6th accused person by the NIA officers to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"On arrival," he added, "I was asked to sit in the other office, while the 6th accused person was escorted to the DPP's office, and a few minutes later the 6th accused came out."

"Then I was asked to enter the DPP's office. The DPP asked me whether I am a soldier, and I replied 'Yes'.

"The DPP further told me that I know you the soldiers are very good in telling lies. The DPP then produced an NIA statement form, and asked me to write a statement to accept about the alleged coup, that if I want to be free, he can release me." 

He added: "The DPP further told me that the 7th accused had accepted that he was the one who was going to clear the container of arms, and I told the DPP that I did not know the 7th accused he was talking about."

"I further told the DPP that you illegally forced me to lie, and the DPP then shouted to security officers to come and take me out of his office," he told the court.

Hearing continues today.